Finding Mudville: The Braves’ New World

  • Thursday, November 21, 2013

As a former resident of Atlanta, it’s hard to believe the Atlanta Braves are leaving Turner Field.

Hard to believe because traveling to downtown Atlanta to watch a Braves game is a nightmare. You can’t get there from here without MARTA, a long walk through a very tough part of town, and a bus ride.

And now the Braves are moving to Cobb County – Marietta, and the northwest corner niche of the I-75/I-285 interchange.

Say what?

If commuting downtown to catch a Braves game at Turner Field is a nightmare, then trying to get to the new Braves ballpark in Cobb County is the nightmare that never ends.

Oh, it’ll end eventually, but you may lose a few loved ones during the trip.

What I meant by losing the loved ones is, during my 31 years calling Atlanta home, I had the good fortune to traverse the top end perimeter between I-85 and I-75.

I aged five years on one drive home.

My son went from diapers to starting first grade.

My daughter went from her infant car seat to introducing me to her future husband.

While you can get there from here, stagecoaches making the journey over the Donner Pass to get to California move faster than the rush hour traffic on I-285. Now add 25-30,000 cars because drivers in Atlanta HATE to car pool?

Have you ever seen a riot on the Interstate?

I have, on I-285.

Anybody who has lived or spent more than an overnight stay in Metro Atlanta are asking the same question of Atlanta Braves management, “How are you going to address the traffic issue?”

The I-75/I-285 interchange in Cobb County is the worst traffic interchange in the South. I’ll put top end perimeter traffic up against any traffic congestion situation in the country even, outside of New York, Chicago and L.A.

I got a ticket once on I-285 because I was driving with an expired license tag. Well, it wasn’t expired when I left that morning.

Getting from Doraville to Marietta using I-285 took four hours, and that was 30 years ago. At the time, my wife worked off Windy Hill Road just above the infamous interchange and we had one car. The kids and I picked her up at 5:00 p.m. It was almost 9:00 by the time we made it home. You could walk from downtown Charleston to Moncks Corner and get there faster.

So, what is the Braves’ big secret to combating the traffic problem, you ask?

They will build what they call a fan friendly 24-hour a day, 365-day a year experience, where you spend the day, nay, the whole week enjoying the ball game. You arrive at 10 in the morning for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch and enjoy the day, or maybe come the night before and spend the night in one of the many hotels.

Since you’re already here, at the game, you won’t be stuck in traffic.

I read that comment 10 times and it still didn’t make any sense.

Spend all day at the ballpark and pay $14 for a four-buck hamburger, $9 for an adult beverage, $49.99 for a Braves T-shirt.

But what about the commute home after the game?

The games don’t get over until after 10 p.m. and it’s after 11 by the time you’ll hit I-285.

Good luck.

At 11 p.m. is when commuters from Marietta are leaving for the next morning’s drive to work.

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