The Georgia State Panthers, one of the newest teams in FBS football, have reportedly submitted a proposal to repurpose Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, as their new home stadium.
University President Dr. Mark Becker and Atlanta real estate development firm Carter provided the Atlanta Journal-Constitution an exclusive look at the proposal on Wednesday. The idea is more than just a stadium. They want to build a $300 million development that will include retail, residential and student housing and will be paid for through a mix of public and private funds.
Turner Field and the surrounding 77-acre area has been the subject of intense speculation since the Braves announced they were to going to build a new stadium in Cobb County that will open in 2017. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said on April 17 that he had already received as many as four proposals for the property.
A $300 million development project is a hefty sum for a small athletic university, although according to Roberson, GSU President Mark Becker does not plan on increasing student fees to finance it.
GSU's football program only launched in 2008. Despite going 1-10 against FCS competition and losing nine games by 21 or more points, the Panthers moved up to the FBS ranks in a transitionary phase last season. They promptly went 0-12 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, improving slightly in the second half of the schedule.
To date, the team has played its games in the 74,000-seat Georgia Dome—home of the Atlanta Falcons—but kept it at a capacity of 31,994. According to Roberson, the highest capacity they have ever reached was a little over 30,000 in their inaugural game four years ago. And it still made the Dome look "cavernous."
If permitted and fiscally possible, the move to Turner Field would prevent GSU home games from feeling so empty, even it's mostly just an optical illusion. It is also unique and would be a boon for the Panthers on the recruiting trail—or at least they hope that's the case.
The Panthers have already fast-tracked their birth and infancy like few (if any) programs before them, and this would be another move toward becoming a legitimate program as soon as possible.