COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The Atlanta Braves played their first game in their new home, SunTrust Park, Friday night. Many feared the fire and collapse of a portion of Interstate 85 just 24 hours earlier would cause huge traffic problems. However, Braves fans say traffic was better than they expected.
Dale Jackson drove from Milton to see the game and made it in plenty of time. “We gave ourselves two hours, we didn't need them,” says Jackson.
Leading up to the game, the Braves released a traffic plan saying they had the bases covered. They detailed the routes to the parking lots, their partnership with Uber and the navigation app WAZE. But after Thursday night's shutdown of a portion of I-85, many thought that would throw a curve ball in the plan.
Like man, Gloria Odem, believed it would add to the already congested I-75 and I-285 leading to Suntrust Park. “I thought it was going to be bad even before what happened on I-85 because I come up 75 all the time, but it really wasn't,” says Odem.
Longtime Braves fan, Tim White, says he's been to Fulton County Stadium, Turner Field, and now Suntrust Park. He says he was going to get here no matter what gridlock awaited him on the roads. He says he was pleasantly surprised when he was able to cruise right in. “Not a problem, come on down folks it was easy, it really was,” says White.
Inside the new ballpark, Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer, Bartolo Colon got in a final tuneup before his 20th big league season. The Braves seized an 8-5 exhibition victory over the New York Yankees.
New York's Greg Bird picked up his eighth homer - tied with Washington's Bryce Harper for the most in the majors this spring - with a two-run shot off the 43-year-old Colon in the third inning. Freeman put the Braves ahead in the bottom half with a drive over the high brick wall in right-center field at SunTrust Park.
The exhibition, before a crowd of 21,392, wrapped up the spring for both teams and served as a soft opening for the new stadium, which still has some kinks to work out. The lights flickered a couple of times, the center field scoreboard went out briefly and the press elevator malfunctioned.
Colon went three innings for the Braves, allowing four hits with two strikeouts. He was followed to the mound by 42-year-old R.A. Dickey, who will make Atlanta the first team since the 1990 Texas Rangers to have two 40-year-old pitchers in the starting rotation.
Dickey pitched two scoreless innings.
Michael Pineda went five innings for the Yankees. He surrendered six hits and three runs, with six strikeouts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report