The fate of the Braves on the scoreboard was uncertain early Friday evening. But fans and other commuters scored a big win at the team’s home opener at SunTrust Park.
Traffic on the Perimeter and Cobb Parkway backed up as expected. But for the most part, the flow of vehicles was smooth on roads and highways around the stadium, and fans reported few problems.
“I expect it will be worse on a regular work day,” said Brian Mohs of Johns Creek, who took the day off and drove to the game early.
Since 2014, when the Braves announced plans to build a stadium at the junction of two of metro Atlanta’s busiest highways, critics have predicted a traffic apocalypse on game nights. But the Braves and Cobb County took a series of steps to alleviate traffic congestion.
Cobb County and the state spent tens of millions of dollars in road improvements, pedestrian bridges and a Cumberland Mall-area shuttle service. The Braves pushed back weekday game times to 7:30 p.m., dispersed parking across a wide area and begged fans to buy tickets and parking in advance to limit aimless driving.
Those preparations appeared to pay off Friday. Light traffic at the beginning of a holiday weekend also helped. Except for a couple of stalled vehicles on the Perimeter, the Georgia Department of Transportation reported no significant traffic incidents.
“Things went great,” Cobb Transportation Director Jim Wilgus said as game time approached. “Traffic dispersed the way we thought it would. There’s some stuff we need to work on, but we’re very pleased.”
Several fans shared that assessment.
Stephen Sharenko, who lives in Midtown, said he and his wife had no problem getting to the stadium with Uber. And he was very impressed with the stadium and The Battery.
“I expected it to be huge, and a ton of people and a ton of food and drink — and that’s what we’re getting,” he said. “This is the dream for a family.”
Mason Longino, 18, a high school senior, said it only took him half an hour to drive up I-285 from near the airport where he lives.
“I was surprised,” he said of the light traffic.
Alex Neale is one of the very first residents of The Battery. Friday night, as he looked down on the stadium from his new home, he said he had “no regrets” about choosing to live in the center of a major tourist attraction.
“It being game one, the allure of it is still pretty phenomenal,” he said. “I’m sure some nights I won’t be in the mood to deal with all of it.”