SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves, will host its very first MLB game Friday. And fans who don’t plan ahead could be in for a lot of trouble. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, none of the team’s parking lots will accept credit or debit cards for the first two games.
This is the complete opposite of what these parking lots are supposed to do. The team has said in the past that the lots would only accept credit or debit, and no one could pay with cash. And the reasoning behind the temporary cash-only policy isn’t necessity — it’s not that their credit card machines aren’t ready. No, this is all by design.
The Braves are trying to get fans into the habit of buying their parking in advance, which is why they’re making their lots cash-only for two games. By removing the option to pay easily by credit or debit, people who didn’t pay in advance for parking will essentially be punished for it. They’ll have to use cash, or find another place to park. There are non-Braves lots in the area that take credit cards, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimated that there are only 2,000 of those spots available.
Even though this is just a temporary situation (the lots will go back to accepting only credit and debit on Sunday), this seems like a really poor way for the Braves to treat their fans. It’s almost as if they’re dour schoolmarms trying to teach their unruly students a lesson: Buy your parking in advance or pay the price. And to do this for the first two games at their new stadium, which will presumably be very well-attended, seems cruel. It’s going to make life difficult for a lot of people, and could have a ripple effect. Those without cash will have to drive around looking for a place to park, causing more traffic in an already congested area. It just seems unwise (not to mention mean-spirited) all around.
In his review of SunTrust Park, Jay Busbee had many positive things to say. But he made an important point: with their switch to a park in a more suburban area, and their emphasis on buying tickets and parking ahead of time, going to see the Braves at SunTrust Park can’t really be done on a whim. The team has made it much harder to decide you want to go to a game just a few hours before it happens. If you want to see them, you have to plan ahead.
So if you’re going to see the Braves on Friday or Saturday and will need to park your car, bring cash. Because the Braves have a lesson to teach you about planning ahead, and they’re going to teach it to you no matter how many people they inconvenience.
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