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Braves break ground on new minor league stadium
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The Atlanta Braves’ trips to Richmond, Va., to watch their top prospects are soon coming to an end.

Beginning next April, the AAA Braves will call Lawrenceville their new home, ending a 44-year run in Richmond.

Excitement ran high as the Gwinnett Braves broke ground for the stadium Tuesday morning, bringing a flurry of people in hopes of seeing plans for the new state-of-the-art stadium.

"(Tuesday) marks a memorable occasion for the Braves organization and Gwinnett County," said team president John Schuerholz. "It is our hope and expectation that many more significant events will take place on these grounds. This world-class ballpark will be an impressive place for baseball fans to experience the game and has made possible for one of the classic AAA franchises to have its roots in Georgia."

The Gwinnett County Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored the ceremony, bringing representatives from the Atlanta Braves, members from the minor leagues, Gwinnett County Commissioners and members from the stadium’s construction team.

The Gwinnett Braves will begin play at a roughly 10,000-seat stadium in 2009 at 2500 Buford Drive in Lawrenceville.

The site, which is still unnamed, is located about three miles from the Mall of Georgia, on the west side of Buford Drive, just north of the Buford Drive and Old Peachtree Road intersection.

According to Gwinnett officials, the stadium will cost an estimated $45 million with $12 million coming from the Gwinnett County property tax and the remaining $33 million coming from a revenue bond that will be paid off by the users of the facility.

"This ballpark will be one impressive facility," said Richard Tucker, chairman of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Our architecture firm, HKS, has blended the state of the art with a sense of history and nostalgia that will place this ballpark among the best in the nation."

While the county technically will own the stadium and has plans to develop the area around it, the Braves will operate that facility under a 30-year lease, overseeing everything from concessions to ticket sales.

Jonathan Zopf contributed to this report.

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