The Atlanta Braves revealed the artist renderings for their planned new stadium last week. Plans are to have the new park, nestled off the intersection of I-75 and I-285 in the busy Cumberland area, by opening day 2017.
The drawings, if they are close to what ends up being built, are spectacular. But if certain incumbent issues aren’t properly addressed, it could be a spectacular nightmare.
Give the Braves credit for doing their homework. Their market research showed the preponderance of their ticket sales coming from people who live north of I-20, which is not far from the current Turner Field.
The Braves say building the new stadium will support more than 5,200 jobs and generate $235 million in payroll.
Now, one of the drawbacks to Turner Field, especially if you live in Atlanta, is it is nowhere near a MARTA stop. Having been to Boston and Chicago, it’s a short walk from the Kenmore Square station to Fenway Park and it wasn’t far to get from the train stop to Wrigley Field. I haven’t been there, but I have been told that the subway stop for Yankee Stadium is close by as well.
But having lived not far from where the new Braves stadium is going to be built, and knowing that area well, traffic can be a disaster. It may not matter much in the mornings as all eight lanes of I-75 south are clogged with commuters headed just across the Chattahoochee and into Atlanta. But in the afternoons and evenings, as people head home to Cobb, Cherokee and other outlying northern counties, well, let’s just say I was always glad to be going against traffic. I think Cobb County and the Braves know they have to address the problem of getting people in, out and around that area, and they have to come up with a mass transit plan, since MARTA doesn’t run to Cobb, or least didn’t when I lived there.
I used to go to at least one Braves game a year and from this part of the state, having the ballpark on the southside of Atlanta was preferred — didn’t have to worry about the Grady curve, the Brookwood split and any of the traffic north of I-20. I don’t think I’ve been to a game since 2006, a 13-8 win over the Giants in which Barry Bonds homered twice, Andruw Jones hit two homers and Shea Hillenbrand went 4-for-5.
Not that Turner Field is historic in any respect — the Braves and the city need to make sure the spot where Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run is memorialized appropriately — but also takes away one of the last vestiges of the Olympic Games coming to Atlanta. Centennial Park may be one of the few lasting edifices visible and open to all.
If you want more on the new Braves stadium, visit homeofthebraves.com.