Braves VP says move to Cobb will benefit the entire region

Derek Schiller says the Atlanta Braves move to the suburbs isn’t about Atlanta, Cobb County or the team.

The Braves' executive vice president of sales and marketing, Schiller told a group of about 50 business people at the Buckhead City Club Thursday morning that the development of SunTrust Park and the associated mixed-use development, known as The Battery Atlanta, will benefit the entire region.

“We’re excited about what Opening Day (2017) represents for us. It’s a galvanizing project … we believe for the entire region. This should not be about Cobb County; it should not be about Atlanta. It’s about the entire area. It’s about embracing the entire area. We hope this project will attract everybody.”

Schiller described many aspects of the development — from the lightning-quick internet speeds, to the size of the stadium, to why the team believes traffic and parking won’t be major hindrances for its fans — that have been widely publicized. There was one question that Schiller couldn’t answer, though.

“How far is the stadium from the Big Chicken?”

“You know,” Schiller responded, “I’ve never been asked that.”

Schiller said the technological wizardry and a cantilever system that brings seats closer to the field of play will be major attractions of the stadium. The 1.5 million square feet of mixed use development, which will include apartments, an office tower, an Omni Hotel, The Roxy theater and 350,000 square feet of retail, will bring people to the complex year round, he said.

On the traffic issue, Schiller said the Braves “are not solving traffic in Atlanta.” But he did say that the location, at the intersections of I-75 and I-285, will provide fans will multiple points of access to the development that will make maneuvering around it easier.

Parking and traffic are major concerns related to the new stadium.

“You can get to it from many different ways; there are many different roads in and out of the location,” Schiller said of the new development.

Schiller also said the team believes the proposed pedestrian bridge over I-285, which would link the Cobb Galleria with the stadium, is important for fan safety.

“Currently, the opportunity for walkability … is a little bit difficult,” Schiller said. “Ultimately, (the bridge) is the responsibility of Cobb County. We’re doing everything we can to see that all the parties can come together. I don’t have a time frame. Hopefully, it will happen in time for opening day.

“We’re optimistic. We’re optimistic about everything else, so why not be optimistic about that, too.”

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has previously reported, the bridge will not be open for any part of the 2017 season, and it is unclear if it will be built at all.

Chris Godfrey, a real estate agent, said Schiller delivered a pitch-perfect message to the City Club members.

“The energy it’s going to bring and the new development is really impressive,” Godfrey said. “It’s going to be a neat hub for business and where people go after business hours.”

Bob Gibeling, who owns a marketing firm, wasn’t sold.

Schiller is “a very effective spokesman for the Braves, but I still have some serious reservations about why they have made their move,” Gibeling said. “What they say about caring about the fans just doesn’t add up. It’s real clear to me this is strictly a profit-based decision by out-of-town owners that want to maximize their … profit.”