John Coppolella, the Atlanta Braves’ general manager, was kind enough to respond this week to 21 questions posed via email. Part 1 of that Q&A — in which he says he’s not trading Julio Teheran — can be found here. Part 2 — in which he says the Braves have tried to trade Hector Olivera and have considered cutting him — is here. But my focus today regards a question/answer about SunTrust Park.
Q: As someone who just moved from Newnan to East Cobb, do you see the new stadium jump-starting this franchise the way other new stadiums have jolted other teams? Or do you, now a Cobb Countian, worry about traffic?
A: The new stadium is going to be fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about it and the mixed-use complex, the people associated with it, especially Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Derek Schiller, and Mike Plant, among literally hundreds involved, and what this will mean not only to Cobb County or Atlanta, but the entire Southeast. I’m not a traffic expert, but the story here should be about how this is going to be something truly special that has never been done anywhere else. It will be a huge boon to our team in terms of recruiting free agents and creating new revenue streams. Most importantly, the fan experience, from everything I’ve heard, should be amazing.
I know the Braves remain utterly ecstatic about their new home. As a Cobb Countian of 31 years, I also know that I and a few of my neighbors await the park’s opening with something approaching dread. Not because the Braves are terrible — that’s subject to change. Because of traffic, duh.
Putting self-interest aside — really, though, can anyone ever put self-interest totally aside? — I wonder if the confluence of negative circumstances will, in this case, trump the feel-good effect that comes with most every new stadium. Bad team, bad traffic, bad local vibes: Is it possible the Braves will play to half-empty houses in their shiny new ballpark in its inaugural season?
I plan to write a bit more about this, and I’m interested in what y’all think. Here are two polls for your clicking pleasure. Thanks in advance for the feedback.