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Gwinnett Getting the Braves

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Looks like the Atlanta area is on the verge of getting another professional sports team:

The Class AAA Richmond Braves, the organization's highest-level minor-league affiliate, could play in Gwinnett as soon as 2009. The Braves' three-year contract at the Richmond, Va. stadium, known as The Diamond, expires following the 2010 season. However, there is an option to pull out after each season. The Braves must give notice on or before Oct. 1 each year.

This would continue the trend of the team wanting new facilities for its minor league affiliates. I wonder if they would consider a name change. We must have the most boring minor league team names, with all but one of our affiliates being named the Braves; the lone exception being the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Attendance might be a factor. While The Diamond can hold just over 12,000 fans, it is rarely full with attendance figures ranging from three to four thousand for weekday games, and five to seven thousand for weekend games. It seems odd though that the Braves would put another baseball team so close to Atlanta. In trying to build a fan base that attends games, the Gwinnett Braves may steal Braves fans who want a less expensive night out at the ballpark as opposed to the money it costs to see a game at The Ted.

This could of course be a Marlins-esque ploy by the Braves to railroad Richmond into ponying up for a new stadium -- and that's worked out so well for the Marlins. I could certainly see us moving to Gwinnett and an affiliate of the Nationals moving to Richmond. It makes sense that the fan base around Richmond may start to migrate towards the new Washington team which would take away attendance from the R-Braves.

This should be an interesting situation to keep an eye on.

Hat tip to B. Lewis for the story. The picture is a view of The Diamond in Richmond.

Update [2008-1-15 11:41:59 by gondeee]:

Via a press release from the Braves, the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors will hold a press conference at 3:30pm today (Tuesday) concerning their efforts to bring minor league baseball to Gwinnett County. I expect them to announce their plans to at least in part fund a new stadium that would be the future home of the Braves triple-A team.