Drove past the new Braves stadium for the first time Friday night, on the way to pick up our nephew at the Clemson team hotel next to the Galleria. The wait at the Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang across the street at Cumberland Mall was two hours, so we went to Mellow Mushroom Pizza on Windy Hill. Unlike the Gwinnett Mall area (at least ten miles outside the Perimeter), the Cumberland Mall / Galleria area has been exploding with growth. Office buildings, hotels, condos, townhouses, apartments, the Cobb Energy Center, stores, restaurants. The growth has already spilled across 285 up Cobb Parkway.
With all the current traffic and congestion south of the Perimeter, building the new Braves stadium, upscale restaurants, and shops just across 285 is a genius idea. The east/west road the stadium complex will be on is already used as a connector to East Cobb, Windy Hill, Powers Ferry, and 75 north. Commuters and residents will have additional, closer options. Instead of starting from scratch in the downtrodden, rarely traveled Turner Field area, the Braves are landing right in the middle of a bustling high traffic area located at the nexus of two major interstates.
Those saying sports teams should be located at the city center forget the Cumberland/Galleria area has as many high rises, amenities, and infrastructure as anywhere besides the overcongested/bottlenecked downtown and Buckhead areas. Parking will be plentiful, and busses serve Cobb County and connect to MARTA. The view from the stands will be scenic: mountains to the north and the high-rises of downtown, Buckhead, and Perimeter areas in the distance – behind the close by Galleria buildings. I can see SunTrust Park hosting more outdoor concerts and other events than Turner Field ever did, competing with other venues on the northside like the Verizon Amphitheater and smaller Cobb Energy Center.
Falcon fans are forced to tailgate in a railroad gulch. How attractive is that? Meanwhile the Braves appear to be the team moving into the nicer, higher-traffic, more successful area.
My expert thinks there is a good chance. The money is available, with Santana, Harang, Heyward, Medlen, and Beachy all gone. How about a rotation of Lester, Teheran, Miller, Wood, and Minor? Beats the Nationals rotation and equals the Cardinals and Giants. Then they can build up the bullpen. Potential Lineup:
Peraza 2B…280 avg 35 SB
Johnson 3B…300 avg
Freeman 1B…25 HR 100 RBI .300 avg
Gattis LF…30 HR 100 RBI 280 avg
J Upton RF…30 HR 100 RBI 290 avg
Simmons SS…270 avg
Bethancourt C…260 avg
B Upton CF…230 avg 15 HR
I say that team competes for the division championship and maybe more.