Braves exec: More parking at SunTrust Park will ease traffic woes

A view of the new SunTrust Park from The Battery Atlanta plaza. The first Braves home game will be an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on March 31.

Combined ShapeCaption
A view of the new SunTrust Park from The Battery Atlanta plaza. The first Braves home game will be an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on March 31.

The Braves say 9,000 fewer seats in the yet-christened SunTrust Park compared to Turner Field should alleviate feared traffic nightmares. And Cobb County's new stadium will have nearly double the number of parking spaces.

Those spaces will surround the 57-acre complex that includes the ballpark and its accompanying multi-use development, Braves executive Mike Plant said Wednesday during a tour of the stadium.

It’s not pitching and playoff chances that fans ask Plant about most. It’s how to get to the game and where to park.

“We are not going to ruin your life every single day,” he said.

According to a parking map released Wednesday, there will be 18 parking lots, three of which are just for day games. The farthest are 1.15 miles away, but those three will be serviced by a free shuttle. Three separate lots will be dedicated to The Battery.

Combined ShapeCaption
See where to park at the Braves' SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta.

See where to park at the Braves' SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta.

Combined ShapeCaption
See where to park at the Braves' SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta.

Plant said there will be 14,000 parking spots in all compared to about 8,700 spots at yesteryear's Turner Field.

There could be too many spaces, Plant told several hundred Cobb Chamber members at a breakfast Monday. “I feel like we’re over-parked,” he said.

There are 14 access points into SunTrust Park compared to the few Turner had.

The team’s decision to have 41,000 seats compared to Turner’s 50,000 was part of the effort to reduce traffic, he said.

He hopes $2 billion spent on infrastructure improvements and a multi-million dollar pedestrian bridge stretching over I-285 from Cobb Galleria Centre will soften the traffic impact.

A May 2014 study predicted that a sold-out Braves game would add 20,000 extra vehicles onto the area's already clogged roads.

“We’ve been blamed for traffic in Atlanta for the last three years, but we haven’t played a game yet,” Plant said Monday.

Combined ShapeCaption
New SunTrust Park view from The Battery Atlanta plaza on Wednesday.

New SunTrust Park view from The Battery Atlanta plaza on Wednesday.

Combined ShapeCaption
New SunTrust Park view from The Battery Atlanta plaza on Wednesday.

He also noted the team's decision to start games 20 minutes later at 7:30 p.m. after a study by an engineering firm showed peak rush hour congestion knocked off 30 percent between 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

The players weren’t happy with the decision, Plant said. But Jim Wilgus certainly was.

“I don’t mean it’s going to be a worse rush hour, but it’s going to feel like a longer rush hour,” said Wilgus, head of Cobb’s transportation department.

Reversing outbound lanes on game days will get vehicles into the area faster and dedicated turn lanes will let people get parked faster, he said.

“There’s going to be a little confusion, but once you’ve done it once or twice … you learn your best way to go,” he said.