Atlanta Braves Say They're Ready For Game-Day Traffic | WABE 90.1 FM

Atlanta Braves Say They're Ready For Game-Day Traffic

Mar 27, 2017

If you're worried about traffic near the new Atlanta Braves stadium on game nights, you're not alone.

But stadium officials and business leaders are telling people not to fret: officials say they're ready.

Cobb County police sergeant J.D. Lorens said if there's a stalled car or malfunctioning traffic light, officers inside an operations center inside SunTrust Park can assist.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

At its final transportation update before the new Atlanta Braves stadium opens to the public on Friday, team officials advised people to buy their tickets and parking spots in advance, use its mobile apps to get to SunTrust Park and follow the signs when they arrive.

The Braves will play their first game in their new home on Friday, in an exhibition against the New York Yankees.

There are 14,000 parking spaces the Braves own or manage, mobile apps to guide people to their exact parking spaces and a Cobb County Police operations center inside the park to help guide traffic hours before and after games begin.

But for commuters in the area, there are still questions about what traffic will look like in a section of the county that experienced major traffic congestion issues even before the Braves began construction. 

Traffic Concerns

Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott said area residents tell him they are starting to feel less anxious about traffic around a stadium that can seat 41,149 people.

Braves officials advised fans to buy their tickets and parking spots in advance, use its mobile apps to get to SunTrust Park and follow the signs when they arrive.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

"People still don't understand that it's not going to be 30,000 cars,” Ott said. “When Turner Field was a full stadium, it was only about 10 or 11,000 cars. This is 9,000 less seats and there's almost 6,000 more parking spots so it's a different environment."

Ott said as information about traffic plans are released, residents in his district, which includes SunTrust Park, tell him they're feeling less anxious.

"As folks see the orange cones come down and the lanes open, all the stuff actually works,” Ott said. “Especially if you drive down Windy Hill right now, it's a lot better with the diverging diamond."

By mid-April, all three pedestrian bridges to SunTrust Park are expected to be open to the public and free shuttles will take people from area parking lots to the stadium.

Traffic Management

Rob Ross, vice president of Kimley-Horn, is a civil engineer who studies traffic for the Atlanta Braves. He said it will help that games will have a delayed start of 7:30 p.m., but it's normal for metro Atlanta residents to shift their schedules based on traffic.  

Greg Mize, digital director of the Atlanta Braves, shows off how the MLB.com Ballpark app will direct people to their specific parking lots.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

“Maybe they run an errand at the end of the day and leave the office when there is a game and people may adjust on their own to avoid the area on game nights,” Ross said. “But we haven't built that into our plan. Our plan can work even if everybody does everything that they've been doing."

Officials scrapped a plan to provide free shuttles from different parts of metro Atlanta directly to the stadium, but Ross said there will still be free shuttles from the stadium to five of its most distant parking lots.

There are more than 20 parking lots and 14,000 parking spots around the stadium. Some of the lots will accept cash.

Traffic Management

Cobb County Police will help direct traffic hours before and after games. For example, Cobb County Police Sgt. J.D. Lorens said that if there's a stalled car or malfunctioning traffic light, officers at a police operations center inside SunTrust Park can assist.

“Our partnership with DOT [the Department of Transportation] is going to allow [live video] feed to go directly into in-game operations center so the traffic manager with our partners will be able to decide immediately what the best course of action is to clear the roadway," Lorens said.

Mobile Apps

Braves president of development Mike Plant said all the details have been figured out, down to how apps like Waze will direct people to their exact parking spot and the best routes to avoid traffic.

Uber Atlanta general manager Luke Marklin announced Uber will have a designated zone where fans can present a pin to any Uber driver to get a ride home after the game.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

"In the past if you put Turner Field, it took you to just one place,” Plant said. “It didn't obviously direct you to a parking lot."

SunTrust Park's digital director Greg Mize said the Braves are relying on technology like the MLB.com Ballpark app, to help people navigate to and through the stadium.

"You'll have your barcode to scan into your lot, you'll have your barcode to scan into the ballpark,” Mize said. “So really the idea is to be a one-stop shop to get you to SunTrust Park."

Uber also announced it would have a designated zone along Windy Ridge Parkway where fans leaving the stadium could present a PIN to any Uber driver in the lot to take them to their destination instead of waiting for a specific car or driver.