by Jeff Delp
A few years ago, news broke about the Braves leaving their downtown stadium, which is less than a mile from our Historic South Atlanta neighborhood.
I heard the news while sitting in Community Grounds and was shocked and surprised like many of you were. I’ve since been asked many times what the Braves leaving means for our neighborhood.
My first reaction was an involuntary reaction from a native Philadelphian and Phillies fan: Good riddance! But my second thoughts were those of a parent of young kids: Will the March Fair stay? Carnival rides are set up across from Turner Field each spring, and my kids love it!
Truthfully, I still don’t know how I feel about the Braves leaving. I will miss them because I like going to games. But traffic does get annoying when those of us nearby are just trying to live our lives.
I doubt I will go to many games in Cobb County because I never have to drive to sporting events any more. South Atlanta’s proximity to Turner Field, Philips Arena, The Georgia Dome, and the new Mercedes Benz Stadium allows me to get to events easily and without a car. (And as a new season ticket holder to Atlanta United FC, I look forward to riding my bike, the bus, or the train to many soccer games in 2017!)
There is one thing I will not miss when the Braves leave: the parking lots.
Parking lots – both official and unofficial ones – have been a drag on our surrounding communities for too long, stifling development and activity in the neighborhood. While they make sense from a game day perspective (for drivers), these parking lots sit empty the overwhelming majority of the time, killing any semblance of urban life and vitality.
If you are walking or biking (like many of our neighbors do), you can literally go a mile without passing a house, business, park, or anything that would interest you. All that exists is parking or the interstate.
This has been my biggest problem with Turner Field. Having the stadium in the neighborhood is kind of quaint – think Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox. But the acres upon acres of parking dedicated to 3 hours a day for 81 days a year has drained life.
We see the impact at Carver Market and Community Grounds. The amount of land dedicated to the Interstate Highway and parking lots around us limits the number of customers in proximity to the store. This lack of density is one of the reasons many chain grocery stores have by-passed our neighborhood.
What will go in the place of the parking lots? Will it be a grocery store like residents want? (Hey, we have one in South Atlanta!) Will it be Georgia State? Sure sounds like it.
Whatever comes our way, my hope is it will consider those living closest to it. For that has been the problem with Turner Field for too long. It is an island separated not by a fence, but by parking lots and highways.
So I say Good riddance, parking lots! And I hope for something we as neighbors can enjoy year-round.
Image credit: Famous Amos