The Battery Atlanta; Millennial Destination or Retirement Community?

May, 21 2017

The Battery Atlanta; Millennial Destination or Retirement Community?

The Battery Atlanta is being marketed as, “the South’s preeminent lifestyle destination”. That is quite a boast, considering hundreds of destinations in Florida make that very same claim. But, what really is a “lifestyle destination”? And, whose lifestyle is it? Other than continuous air, is there such a thing as a, “one-size-fits-all lifestyle”?

If you read The Battery Atlanta’s website their target market appears to be single millennials with disposable cash. While this strategy isn’t exactly a fresh take, in the case of The Battery, it seems wildly off target. New, modern construction with contemporary conveniences; Millennial. Walkable communities; Millennial. Close to bars and restaurants; Millennial. A baseball stadium in the middle of the complex with a baseball theme throughout; Millennial? Really?

If traditional investors were creating a new lifestyle destination for Millennials from scratch, does anyone believe they would have opted for a baseball team to be the “anchor”? The Braves and Cobb County taxpayers are bankrolling The Battery’s lifestyle destination. So, could it be the Braves, like all parents, blindly think their kid, baseball, is the greatest of all sports? Or, is The Battery a vision of what parents of Millennials think should be their kid’s lifestyle destination? It’s hard to tell.

Baseball is America’s grand old game. But, it no longer holds the cultural importance it once did. The number of children playing the game has decreased every year over the last several decades. TV ratings are at all-time lows. Game times have now exceeded three hours. The average TV viewer is 58 years-old. What in any of this is screaming millennial?

The decline, or “aging” of baseball, has been well documented by numerous researchers over the years. Given all this, at the very least, the Battery’s millennial strategy seems horribly miscast. The Braves are selling a lifestyle of, “where the action is”. Baseball is a quiet game of strategy, that even its most ardent fans would be hard pressed to call its play; “action”.

It’s doubtful Cobb County investors saw any marketing data prior to giving the Braves a green light. Certainly anyone in real estate would have warned them building residences within a baseball theme park would present unusual marketing challenges. Battery Atlanta is a really nice place! But, the dominating, omnipresent baseball theme is impossible to escape from. Make no mistake, living in the Battery’s tight physical confines with a wildly fluctuating fan-based population will impact the life of every resident. Meaning, if you choose to live at the Battery, you also choose to put up with the program. This of course begs the question; “who would want to do that”?

Marketing 101 says, don’t try to be something you are not. In this case, a millennial destination. The taxpayers have built a baseball theme park. Instead of hiding from it, embrace it. Run toward the light and be the best baseball theme park in the United States. Make every baseball fan in America want to visit and see a game played at Suntrust Park.

It’s true, baseball has become a niche sport. So what. It’s a HUGE niche! But, marketing to baseball fans will significantly change the demographics. The market would be active seniors or near seniors who LOVE baseball. Forget the apartments. Think condo. Think of the ultimate retirement community for the upscale baseball fan. Fans from Detroit, Chicago, and Boston could retire at The Battery and totally engage themselves in their hobby.

The sky is the limit. There are 550 residences in The Battery. What if every resident were a Braves season ticket holder? Tickets could be priced in the condo or in the Association fee. If they focus on the right target market, The Battery would be able to create an environment that could make its 550 units the envy of every baseball fan in America. Can you imagine the fantasy leagues?

If the Braves had stayed in their lane, and kept their eye on baseball, perhaps The Battery wouldn’t have been built. But, now that it’s here, what is its best use? Is it really “the South's preeminent lifestyle destination”? It is not. Could it be “America’s preeminent baseball lifestyle destination”? Very easily. Add a putting/chipping green and a few Pickleball courts, rent out office space to medical providers, cut down on the upscale bistros and add more family diners. Instant retirement community.

One of the biggest knocks on The Battery is its location at the intersection of major highways. There is nothing anyone can do about it. This is clearly a negative to many. Millennials will feel isolated and trapped by this configuration. But, this could also be a positive to others. Seniors will also feel isolated but, unlike the Millennial, the isolation offers protection and safety. Turning the biggest negative into a unique positive is considerably easier to market.

It’s questionable if The Battery will be successful for Millennials. But, it’s almost certainly a “no-brainer” if the Braves ever wanted to consider a, “Plan B”.

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