Braves Stadium Relocation Shaping Up to Be a Disaster

When the Braves announced they were leaving Atlanta for suburban Cobb County in 2013, logistically it seemed to make some sense. After all, the new stadium site is more centrally located in relation to the highest concentration of fans who attend games.

How will Cobb County fund the "magic bridge?" Image: AJC
Cobb County needs to build a foot bridge over a highway so people can reach the new Braves stadium, but it won’t be ready by opening day. Image: AJC

But it turns out that relocating a sports stadium to a sprawling, car-dependent area is really tough — because of the enormous infrastructure outlays necessary to transport thousands of people to the same place by car.

After putting $400 million in public money into attracting the Braves, Cobb County officials are having an embarrassingly hard time getting the site ready for opening day.

The location for the new field is right by the nexus of two enormous highways, I-75 and I-285, and it is bound to the southwest by the Cobb Parkway — another giant, high-speed road.

Somehow, “neither the Braves nor the county has released any information about its plans for traffic control, pedestrian safety, or parking,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Problem is, there’s not enough room for everyone to park right near the stadium. There are, however, about 2,000 parking spaces and a bus hub just across I-285.

Walking can’t be completely eliminated from the stadium planning — all those people still have to cross the highway on foot. So Cobb County will construct a foot bridge over I-285 for $9 million.

But county officials recently announced that the bridge project would be delayed for at least a year and won’t be open in time for the Braves’ first season at SunTrust Park. That was after the Georgia Department of Transportation refused to help fund the project.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, additional costs kept piling up for the bridge. But officials never revised their $9 million estimate upwards, leading one county government observer to call it the “magic bridge.” Cobb County commissioners have said they are going to pay for it using sales tax funds approved by voters last year, but it’s not clear that would be allowed under the terms of the ballot measure.

Getting desperate, Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott recently suggested that as an alternative to the bridge the county could reconstruct I-285 to run under the Cobb Parkway.

Meanwhile, just this week, Cobb County officials said they would spend $1.2 million annually operating circulator buses through the area, a decision critics panned as a taxpayer subsidy for the Braves. But without the bridge, buses would have to go out of their way and sit in heavy freeway traffic.

Ashley Robbins, a former Atlantan who maintains the transit blog MARTA Rocks!, says the Braves and Cobb County are headed for a mess of their own making.

“Part of their rationale for their move was that there wasn’t sufficient transit to Turner Field,” she said. But “a significant number of people actually took transit to the games.”

“We’re taking the most congested, most traversed roads in Atlanta and we’re dropping a sports complex right in the middle of it. It’s going to be a nightmare.”

  • Allen from College Park

    Not just who–but how? No parking for them, and an inadequate county bus system…Yes, opening day will be interesting. …

  • Lando Calrissian

    Lmaoooo!!!! The braves can take their 1 World Series. 11 pennant, currently 7-25 already shot to hell season and fuck off to the suburbs where their “true fans” live. You idiots put a stadium in the dumbest place possible and traffic up there is going to be insane on game days. Nobody in the city even cares about the sorry braves, let’s have a soccer team! No more random game day afternoon traffic, no hordes of tourist looking idiots, no more baseball…thank god. Cobb residents thought they pulled a coup and were crowing last year, now it’s rage city with all the cost overruns and broken promises. how’s that extra 100 million you have to pony up taste? ??? Racist Cobb idiots….all this so you don’t have to come to a black area for baseball…nobody wanted you there anyway!

  • Lando Calrissian

    No because there was already a stadium where turner field was dumbass. Plus there is Marta access; free shuttles from the staton to the game MARTA paid the bill for.

  • Lando Calrissian

    The main source of traffic is not the construction you liar…it’s the fact that Cobb pkwy, 285 and 75 all meet right there and during rush hour it’s two way traffic.

  • Lando Calrissian

    Please they moved so rich white people can avoid the area around the stadium which is “too black”

  • Lando Calrissian

    That is why the transit never got funded north of the city but has nothing to do with the braves…

  • Cal Stevens

    Can the Braves move now with there terrible record???

  • This subject is a large part of my latest post: http://ow.ly/LyQ43007AM2 This idea is a serious debacle – the ball-club’s poor performance record is the cherry on the stale cake known as SunTrust Park.

  • Josh Hedges

    Their*.

  • Jeff K.

    Hi Lynn. See the note I just posted on your Facebook page.

  • Leeroy

    No one wants you in Cobb as well, stay out.

  • I don’t think they wanted poor and black people to stay away, they just want suburban whites to outnumber them. Their “real” fans were “afraid to come downtown…”

    Honestly, they’re moving closer to the center of where their ticket-buyers come from: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/11/why-the-braves-want-to-move-in-one-ticket-sales-map

    As an in-town resident, I’m thrilled to see them go. Pro stadiums tend to be terrible for development of the areas around them, and this will free up a lot of underused land. Who cares about the traffic in Cobb anyway?

  • Anthony Canney

    oooohhh THEIR.. I had NO CLUE what the fuck Cal was trying to imply until you so courageously corrected his grammar. :SARCASM:

  • RamonMendozaGA

    Not only did you reach the same conclusion as I did (lifelong fan now dumping the Braves) but you even called them the “Smyrna Braves” as I have since 2013 when this deal was announced! Great minds think alike! 😀

  • RamonMendozaGA

    I can’t reconcile the irony of a county that *doesn’t* want to be connected to the city’s primary mass transit system but *does* want a huge stadium that will generate it’s own traffic patterns 81 times per year.

    This competition between small cities in the Metro area are why we can’t tackle big projects like mass transit and regional transportation or education.

  • Arthur Johnson

    So deal with it.

  • crateish

    Zero chance of ever going to see them play again. They should be renamed ‘The Cobb County Braves,’ and Atlanta should start a rival team.

  • Capt Jimbo

    There is already a paved trail that cuts under I-285 The Rottenwood Creek Trail….these idiots just want to spend more $$

  • Are you sure?

    Turner Field sits right in the middle of the worse crime areas in the state. Getting up to a lower crime area is a big plus. Who wants to ride damn Marta to a game and risk getting robbed and killed by one of the whackos in south Atlanta?

  • George McKelvy

    Turner field sits 1/2 mile South of I-20 and that’s “south Atlanta”? Exactly how many robberies and murders occurred going to and from a Braves game? Blowing smoke aren’t you?

  • DB1968

    SO thankful to be in poncey highlands with no reason to ever have to get near 285-75 again. And it should help not having game day traffic down here anymore. I have a feeling there will be a lot of unused suite tickets for Delta, Coca Cola, GP etc next year….”no, we’re good, my clients don’t want to have to go up there. We’ll just eat somewhere good and go the Clermont later”…

  • HondasAcuras

    Marta already comes to Cobb county right next to this stadium.

  • Daniel Rice

    When people say “Marta” they mean hard rail lines. That bus route that goes to Cumberland from Arts Center Station in midtown doesn’t count at “Marta in Cobb County”

  • Daniel Rice

    My wife and I live in Smyrna, a few miles from this new stadium. We’re moving back in town because of this. I hope everyone who lives in the area like me are looking forward to 83 Work From Home days a year 🙂

  • RamonMendozaGA

    Rather than accepting MARTA, the good residents of Cobb decided to create their own independent bus system, CCT. Shortly afterwards, they realized that most people found the system useless: folks wanted to get across Metro Atlanta, not just across Cobb County.

    Reluctantly, Cobb agreed to allow MARTA to barely cross into the County just far enough to pick up CCT riders near Cumberland Mall. On a good day, it’s a cumbersome solution for folks that want to travel from north Cobb into downtown. It will never hold up to the demand of tens of thousands of additional commuters on game days.

    But yes, you’re right: MARTA already comes to Cobb. And if crossing a major highway or two on foot is acceptable, then sure, it’s “right next to” the stadium.

  • basilisk4

    You kind of completely missed the point. THERE IS NO RAIL ACCESS TO TURNER FIELD. There’s rail access to Underground Atlanta, where no one wants to go, and then a bus. Woo fucking hoo.

  • Eddie G

    Cobb Pwy a high speed road? Ha! Surely you jest or have never driven the current stop and go 2MPH traffic.

  • As someone who lives literally across the street from this trail, it’s still pretty far from where the stadium will be and not particularly accessible to most vehicle traffic, so it’s not a good solution on its own

  • Don

    There is no MARTA access to Turner Field because the land is owned by the city of Atlanta and they wanted the parking revenue. That, my friend, is a fact!

  • Melissa Heath

    The sound the puck makes gliding across the ice.. The crisp air as you enter the arena.. Going to a hockey game is a visceral experience. It is certainly not boring, but to each their own. It seems like the only way to enjoy a baseball game is to get tanked. Enjoy those already $12 beers skyrocketing to $17.

  • sully cosmo

    I too live and work in Savannah and i call bs as well

  • Serina Patrick

    Great idea Daniel! I’d be thrilled to help you and your wife find a home ITP. Just happened to read these comments because I own a home near Turner Field and couldn’t be happier to see ’em go! I’m a Realtor at KW Intown specializing in intown neighborhoods. Feel free to find me on Facebook!

  • Ant McLeod

    Exatcly, I live in Cumming, I would take the Marta to the bus at the underground which drops you off right outside of the stadium. This guys problem sounds like he doesn’t like being around anyone that isn’t white. I traded my season tickets in for Hawks tickets, the Braves can stay in racist Cobb with their racist fans.

  • Jaskon

    No what he is saying is that where the stadium is being build,it’s close to Cumberland which is considered Northwest Atlanta.Yet it’s still having to go through Cobb County to get funding and such.Just because it’s not under Atlanta jurisdiction doesn’t mean it isn’t in Atlanta. FYI there are plenty of areas that are considered Atlanta,but fall under a different counties jurisdiction.

  • Jaskon

    They are building parking decks,but what the article was pointing is that there won’t be enough space to fill the stadium.Not to mention you have to discuss the fans that wanna go,but they have to travel by transit.MARTA will get you as close as the Cumberland Mall and CCT is under staff and don’t have the equipment to handle the traffic for the stadium.

  • Get Up Early ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

    Race card! You lose.

  • Ant McLeod

    No the Braves lose, enjoy that 100 lost team. Increased taxes to pay for the stadium and infrastructure. Increased traffic during summer (when traffic is light) and so you don’t to walk through the Underground.

  • Pink Freud

    As in most stadiums, concessions are usually managed overall by large catering-type companies, but staffed by volunteers who are fundraising for their various non-profit groups. These volunteers and groups are rotated from event to event in (what appears to me as ) a random fashion. So, aside from the manager-types, most of the staff does not work every event, or even every fifth or tenth event…

  • Marc Mosley

    There will be crime in any city or county and it has nothing to do with public transportation

  • Marc Mosley

    Don’t know what stadium you go to but every major one I have gone to has paid employees not volunteers…

  • KnightTime

    Perhaps they meant high congestion. Coming from the south, there’s no way I’ll bother trying to drive to the new stadium for an evening game.

  • down_with_BongHit_Barry

    Since you seem to be more than a little slow on the uptick, I’ll repeat it for you. NOTHING happens in Atlanta – including the Braves moving to Cobb County – without the powers that be in the dimocRAT Crime Syndicate approving of it after getting their payoff. NOTHING.

    I suggest you put down the chardonnay.

  • Hamma Time

    Ha, Traffic light at 285/75 in cobb……LMAO 8 northbound lanes through there and when I last traveled it in 2013, it still rightfully deserved its name of ‘parking lot 75’. The race thing is funny as well — cobb is overwhelmingly white compared to the other metro counties, it’s also run the best out of the metro counties too, providing better services for 1/3 the cost of the counties.

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