ATLANTA - Major League Baseball is underway, and we're only a week from your Atlanta Braves home opener at the new SunTrust Park.
Last week, the team hosted an exhibition game for season ticket holders, which proved to be a good test run for traffic operations. Three years of work have gone into this move, from Turner Field, to the new park location in Cobb County.
Right away, traffic was a big concern for this busy area near I-75 and I-285. The Braves have worked with DOT, Cobb County officials, local business owners and contractors to come up with the right solution to move people through the area, and get people to and from the park.
In addition to the new park, there have been about $2billion dollars in infrastructure improvements in the area right around SunTrust Park. The Braves have also moved back their start time on week nights from 7:10PM to 7:35PM, to help more drivers get home.
One thing that fans will notice is different from Turner Field are the 14 different points of access to get into the park, which should help ease traffic concerns.
"People are so used to Turner Field, where there's one, large central location for parking and so that means there's one place where all the parking goes too. Here, we've tried to disperse the parking, that way we disperse the traffic, that way there's not only one location where all the traffic is showing up," explains Rob Ross, VP, Kimley-Horn.
Along with SunTrust Park, there’s also The Battery Atlanta. It's a mixed use development right next to the park, where fans can spend time before and after games. There will be shops, restaurants, music venues, and apartments. The Braves hope fans will come early before game time, and stay late after, which will help spread traffic on game days.
Contractors say they're confident things will move smoother than many fear. "There's a lot of fear because of the experience people have had with Turner Field, because everyone is going to that same place, but because we're spreading it out, because we have options based on time and because of the construction and the improvements that are being done, not just or the Braves event traffic but also for the day to day traffic," adds Ross.
We talked with those same engineers after the exhibition game. Overall, they say they are pleased with how things responded, but that there are things to be improved. There were more drivers on Circle 75 Parkway than expected, telling them that people were either showing up without parking, or driving around looking for their deck.
There are more parking spaces available at SunTrust Park than at Turner Field, but they are spread out in all directions, and even in private business lots across the interstate. Purchasing parking ahead of time will be the fastest way to get to the park.
Once you get your parking pass, the Braves are partnering with the navigation app Waze to help direct you through traffic, and straight to your parking lot. It will also update any closures put in place by Cobb police.
Uber will have specific drop off and pick up locations next to the park gate, if you don't want to mess with driving at all.
We'll also be chatting with Cobb Police about their traffic management operations on game days and what you can expect from them.