The short shelf life of a baseball stadium

The average lifespan of a professional baseball stadium just got a little shorter.

The Atlanta Braves announced today they’ve purchased land on the outskirts of town on which to build a “world class” stadium that will open with the 2017 season.

In making the announcement, the Braves are abandoning a stadium that is just 17 years old, but yet needs “hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements,” the general manager of the team said.

It’s a classic example of the hidden costs of stadiums: The “upgrades” requiring additional millions of investment on an ongoing basis. A $10 million scoreboard was added in 2005, $6 million in luxury suites and seating was added in 2008. But it wasn’t enough.

Turner Field was built with no public financing for the 1996 Olympics, then converted to a baseball stadium. The Braves lease the stadium but the lease expires in 2016.

The new stadium will be built with $450 million in private financing arranged by Cobb County and another $200 million put up by the team, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

They might need more. The last new ballpark in baseball — in Miami — cost almost $650 million.