Cobb County outlaws private parking at new Braves stadium

SunTrust Park, mid-construction (Photo by John Bazemore/AP Images)
(Photo by John Bazemore/AP Images)

The Atlanta Braves have gotten almost nothing but bad press about their new Cobb County stadium, SunTrust Park, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Dan Klepal of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Wednesday that Cobb County commissioners passed an ordinance all the way back in February that specifically outlaws private parking within a half-mile of the new stadium during Braves games and other stadium events.

That means any property owners in that radius who have parking and might want to charge for it will be prohibited from doing so by law. It will prevent local businesses from competing with the Braves on parking fees, and cut off a possible revenue stream. When new ballparks are built, team and city officials usually emphasize the growth opportunities for local businesses. In this case, the Braves and Cobb County seem to be doing the exact opposite.

Klepal has Cobb County’s response:

County officials say the law is necessary for public safety, and note that property owners ineligible for a license because of their proximity to the stadium can file an appeal to the county commission. But critics see it as a heavy-handed attempt to protect Braves parking revenue, and help the team as it negotiates leases with nearby lot owners for supplemental parking.

Public safety should definitely be on their mind, though they’re doing everything they can to make the situation worse. SunTrust Park will include 2,500 fewer parking spaces than Turner Field, so I’m not sure how intentionally limiting other parking will help public safety. (Parking was one of the reasons the team gave for wanting to leave 19-year-old Turner Field, so none of this makes any sense.) And considering that the stadium isn’t directly accessible by Atlanta’s public transit system, it only stands to make life more difficult for fans who want to see the Braves play.

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There is a pedestrian bridge planned that will take fans from the Cobb Galleria (a convention center) to the stadium, bypassing the busy interstate that separates the two. There are 2,000 parking spaces at the Galleria, but stadium goers will have to compete for them with those attending events at the center.

The Braves have yet to release their own parking plan, which could include contracting with local businesses to make more parking available. It will probably be easier for them to do that since those businesses have been outlawed from offering their own independent parking.

As for when Braves fans will get to experience SunTrust Park themselves, the Associated Press obtained a copy of the Braves’ 2017 schedule and reported that the new stadium is slated to open on Thursday, April 13, 2017 with a game against the San Diego Padres. The team would not comment on the AP report since the team’s schedule isn’t yet finalized. Needless to say, if you’re planning to drive to the stadium, you’ll want to get there early.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher