The first test of traffic impacts from the new SunTrust Park in Cobb County will come Friday, March 31, when the Atlanta Braves play the New York Yankees in a 7:35 p.m. exhibition game.
The stadium also hosts a college baseball game — University of Georgia vs. Missouri — at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8. Then comes Opening Day on Friday, April 14, in a 7:35 p.m. game. The starting time for the Opening Day game was chosen in hopes of reducing the effects of rush-hour traffic.
Sandy Springs is among the neighboring cities concerned about traffic impacts. At its March 21 City Council meeting, Assistant City Manager Bryant Poole said that discussions continue between the city, Cobb and the Braves, but details remain scant and the main tactic is to wait and see what happens.
However, the city also plans to develop some data to support any future stadium-traffic plans. At the suggestion of Councilmembers Andy Bauman and Chris Burnett, the Public Works department is placing measuring devices at 39 spots on streets likely to carry stadium traffic to gain before-and-after traffic counts. That will give a baseline of data to estimate whether and how much traffic actually increases on local streets due to the ball park. The traffic counts were set to start this week and will be repeated in mid-April and mid-May, on game days and non-game days, and on weekdays when school is in session, officials said.
Another approach to stadium traffic is to joke about it to relieve anxiety. Bauman referred to “baseball-mageddon,” while Mayor Rusty Paul only half-jokingly suggested a “Braves navy” of kayaks and boats that people could use to get to the stadium via the Chattahoochee River.