AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Cobb taxpayers to fund traffic control at SunTrust Park

Having Cobb County police officers at 30 intersections around SunTrust Park for games and special events is important because a whopping 95 percent of fans get to the stadium using some form of vehicle.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday, Cobb taxpayers are footing the estimated $900,000-a-year bill for traffic control outside of the stadium.

That's a change -- the Braves paid for traffic control during the last eight seasons at Turner Field and the Falcons will pay an estimated $2.5 million for traffic control at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Before that, the Georgia World Congress Center collected stadium revenue to cover the $1.7 million traffic management expense at the Georgia Dome.

According to statistics released by Cobb County, 82 percent of fans will get to the stadium by personal vehicle. The rest breaks down this way:

  • 6 percent by taxi or ride share.
  • 5 percent by corporate shuttles.
  • 4 percent on foot or bicycle
  • 2 percent by charter bus.
  • 1 percent by transit.

The AJC also polled more than a dozen cities with either Major League Baseball or NFL stadiums, and found only two cases where the city paid all or a portion of the expense.

That included Los Angeles, where the Rams began playing football last fall, after moving from St. Louis.

After two exhibition games at the Coliseum, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and four city council members wrote Rams' owner Stan Kroenke and asked that the team cover the $2 million annual expense.

"The need for safety on our streets, in our subways and light rail stations and within the neighborhoods that you will be impacting cannot be overstated," the Aug. 12, 2016 letter says. "It is imperative that the costs be fully covered and that only off-duty officers be employed."

Kroenke agreed, and wrote the city a check that covered the expense for the first two preseason games that had already been played when the letter was written.

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About the Author

Dan Klepal is a reporter on the AJC’s investigative team, focusing mainly on local and state governments. Klepal previously covered Atlanta City Hall and Cobb County, where he wrote extensively about the public investment in SunTrust Park. Prior to coming to Atlanta, Klepal covered city governments in Cincinnati and Louisville, Kentucky.