Fans Love New SunTrust Park

Cobb fans reacted positively to the Braves’ new home at SunTrust Park and even report that the expected traffic problems are less than expected.

“The traffic Armageddon didn’t happen as people had predicted,” said District 2 Commission Bob Ott. “It took me just 11 to 15 minutes to get there from my house.”

The park and The Battery drew praise from those who attended the opening game on April 14 as the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 5 to 2. There was a full house on opening night with 41,149 tickets sold.

“The excitement and energy in the Battery was palpable,” said Jodi A. Miller, a Vinings lawyer. “Of course it was the grand opening, but it looks like it’s going to be everything Cobb County and the Braves hoped it would be. Well done, Cobb County! Welcome home Braves!”

MaryJane LeCroy of Smyrna is a season ticket holder and was impressed.

“We thoroughly enjoyed SunTrust Park during opening weekend,” she said. “The ballpark itself has a more intimate feeling with great views. Food and beverage choices are abundant and go far beyond the standard hot dogs, peanuts and Coke. There certainly is something for everyone.”

Ceremonies marked the opening game with nods to the players who have had their numbers retired, a presentation of Jerseys from Braves top staff to County Commissioners and even a military jet flyover. The first pitch was thrown by Hank Aaron to Bobby Cox, just as they had done to close out the team’s run at The Ted.

Traffic was on the minds of fans and officials before and after the game. Even The Governor chimed in.

“You can get there without any real problem, Gov. Nathan Deal said. “We didn’t even have to use the blue lights.”

“So far, there have been no major traffic problems caused by Braves traffic,” said Ron SIfen of Vinings. “There have been some localized spots on Circle 75 Parkway, Windy Ridge Parkway, and Interstate North Parkway where traffic can back up perhaps a tenth of a mile. The interstates and arterials such as Cobb Parkway have not experienced backups due to anything related to the Braves.”

“Many predicted the Cumberland area would be a bad location, and there was not much transit, and traffic would be much worse than traffic at Turner Field. Braves traffic at Turner Field used to back up I-75 for miles, and traffic around the stadium was terrible. So far, the Cobb County location is proving to be a superior location, and is causing dramatically less traffic problems than the downtown Atlanta location.”

Fans packed the Cumberland Connector bus that ran a loop from the Cumberland Transit Station to the ballpark. Many had gotten on at the MARTA Arts Center Station and caught the CobbLinc bus.

Bruce LaBudde of Smyrna caught the Cumberland Connector on Cobb Parkway to the Battery.

“It was fabulous,” he said, noting that he had a long history of Braves games. “I went to the Braves’ opening game in Atlanta with my dad in 1966.”

Ms. Miller said that she was proven wrong about Braves traffic.

“I just couldn’t see how it could work successfully,” she posted on Facebook. “I could not believe how smoothly traffic moved around the stadium (in the opener). At 5:30 the Windy Hill and SunTrust Park exits were clear and moving well. In fact, you hardly would have noticed that there was a home game.”

From the May 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Braves Welcome Fans to New Home In Cobb

The last of the cranes used in the construction of SunTrust Park was removed at the end of March and two preseason games have tested the staff operations, passing with flying colors.

The Atlanta Braves are ready to open the season in their new home in Cobb County on April 14 against the San Diego Padres.

“The pride is boundless,” said Terry McGuirk, Braves Chairman and CEO. “The effort by so many people get us here is overwhelming. There have been some 2,500 people a day working on the project, sometimes in three shifts over the past 2 1/2 years.”

“This was a five to eight year project done in 30 months,” Mike Plant, president of development, said.

Construction work, and cranes still are completing The Battery, an entertainment district venues, restaurants, 200,000 sq. ft. of retail and apartments adjacent to the park.

McGuirk said that some 150 of the planned apartments are finished, and leased.

“It’s sort of a millennial heaven,” he said.

Construction on the Battery will continue throughout the summer with the The Omni hotel opening by Thanksgiving and the Comcast office building by late summer. The first concert at the Roxy is April 7.

“By the end of the year everything will be open,” he said.

Local fans are looking forward to being a part of the new ballpark.

The Smyrna First United Methodist Church’s youth choir, God’s Light, will perform the national anthem on April 19. “They do it every year but this one is particularly exciting since it’s in our own backyard,” said Julie Lischer.

SunTrust Park was designed as a fan’s ballpark, with good sightlines and an intimate feel.

“The advantage of this orientation is that from the upper deck you can see the Atlanta skyline,” said Joe Spears, architect.

Another unique feature is the connectivity available at the park. With Comcast next door, and wi-fi repeaters located at numerous spots around the field and in the seats, fans can enjoy free high speed wi-fi.

From the April 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County, Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Braves Show Off Menu For SunTrust Park

Opening Day is April 14 and there’s more on the menu at SunTrust Park than just peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jack.

The ballpark’s concessions are provided by Delaware North Sportservice – a division of global hospitality and foodservice provider Delaware North. Other food vendors include Chick-fil-A, Waffle House and Fox Brothers Barbeque.

“Like the ballpark, the food service is state of the art,” said Shawn Mattox, Delaware North’s general manager at SunTrust Park.

A variety of themed outlets will provide regionally inspired, fan-favorite dishes using local ingredients and companies. The “Taste of Braves Country” program will feature traditional items from around Georgia and five other neighboring states considered “Braves Country,” while a “Farm to Fan” initiative will bring fresh, homegrown ingredients to the ballpark from Atlanta-area farms and other local producers.

Delaware North Executive Chef  Smithing  noted that while the ballpark food prices are usually higher, “It’s all made in house so it’s similar to fine dining, but at the ball park.”

He noted that for a family of four you might expect to budget about $60 for a meal during the game. A kids’ meal of a hot dog, chips and a drink is $7.

“Delaware North has done an incredible job creating an authentic southern food experience for fans coming to SunTrust Park,” said Mike Plant, Braves president of development. “With everything from the flavors to the vendors having a local tie, we know our fans will enjoy and appreciate the food experience and the quality service.”

The Taste of Braves Country program was designed to showcase the best southern cooking from “Braves Country,” which encompasses Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Time-tested dishes and flavors from around the south will be found on concessions menus across the ballpark. Some highlights include:

  • Georgia: Fox Bros. BBQ; Hugh Acheson 1st & 3rd Hot Dog and Sausage Shack, Chick-fil-A; Waffle House.
  • South Carolina: Pimento Cheese Patty Melt, served with caramelized onions and smoked paprika on rye.
  • North Carolina: Smoked whole hog BBQ sandwich, served on white bread with chopped southern slaw and vinegar BBQ sauce.
  • Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken, served with bread & butter pickles.
  • Mississippi: Blackened Catfish Po’ Boy Taco, served with slaw and Comeback Sauce.
  • Alabama: Fried Tomahawk Pork Chop, served on an extra-large potato roll with collard green slaw and white BBQ sauce.

“Braves fans come from far and wide, and each one has a different and delicious food they enjoy while watching a baseball game,” said Shawn Mattox, Delaware North’s general manager at SunTrust Park. “We designed a menu that underscores the diversity of southern cooking and created dishes that we know all fans will enjoy while in Atlanta for a game.

For its Farm to Fan initiative, Sportservice will draw from a network of more than 40 Atlanta-area farms, urban and college gardens, and other local producers to incorporate their produce into a variety of concessions dishes. The produce and fresh ingredients will vary throughout the season based on market availability and each game will feature a different farm or local company. A guest farmer component will also bring the farmers to the ballpark to work alongside Sportservice chefs and meet with fans as they try the locally sourced dishes.

Fans can look for the Farm to Fan logo at concession stands throughout the ballpark to try the featured produce item of the game, or follow on social media as farms and participating concession stand locations are announced throughout the season.

Despite the myriad choices of food at the ballpark, the Braves will allow outside food in SunTrust Park, reversing an earlier announcement.

The organization initially said no outside food or drink, except a sealed water bottle, would be allowed into the new stadium.

Just before the March 31 preseason game, the Braves tweeted that, after receiving feedback from fans, they have changed that policy.

“Over the past few days we have heard feedback from our fans expressing their desire to continue to bring food items into the ballpark on game days. We listened and have decided to amend our approach,” the organization posted on Twitter.

Fans will now be allowed to bring food inside SunTrust Park as long as it fits inside a clear, gallon-sized plastic bag. Fans may still bring a sealed plastic water bottle.

“One bag of food and one bottle of water per ticket will be permitted,” the tweet said.

All bags of food are subject to additional inspection.

Exceptions to the policy will be made for those with dietary concerns and infants.

From the April 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Braves’ Economic Impact Nears $4 Billion

First pitch at the Braves’ new SunTrust Park is next month, but already the economic benefits are being felt, not only in the Cumberland area, but across southern Cobb County.

Some $4 billion in new investment will be realized in the Cumberland area by 2018, with approximately $3 billion going toward enhancements in public infrastructure, according to figures from Malaika Rivers, Cumberland CID Executive Director. The Cumberland CID has more than 20 construction projects underway within a three-mile area. These infrastructure improvements are set to improve safety and better manage the traffic congestion within the area

Cobb Chamber President David Connell noted that Cobb will soon be home to three professional sports franchises. Preceding the Braves’ relocation to Cobb was the Atlanta Blaze, a professional men’s field lacrosse team based in Kennesaw, while Arthur Blank’s Atlanta United Football Club is building its headquarters and training complex on a 33-acre site on Franklin Gateway in Marietta; the soccer team will begin play this spring and eventually play its home games at the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Six Flags and White Water expect an attendance boost from Braves fans.

“We are interested in working with the Braves; we expect to see a lot more attendance at both parks,” said Six Flags President Dale Kaetzel. “The combination will make people want to stay an extra night, and usually they stay closer to the theme park so they can get in early.”

“District 4 (southwest Cobb represented by Commissioner Lisa Cupid) has been leading the county in permits for the last six months,” said Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce. “There’s a lot happening there – new homes, new business. South Cobb is in a great position because there’s a great infrastructure already in place.

Other parts of southern Cobb are working to get their piece of the pie.

“We hope to market the area as a pit stop for travelers to the Braves’ games,” said Stephanie Aylworth, economic development coordinator for Powder Springs.

Powder Springs is looking at future downtown plans and funding. Mayor Al Thurman said he favors building upscale apartments in downtown to draw more businesses. City officials are reviewing several plans which would involve the investment of $3 to $5 million for “a public amenity” in downtown with its design and location not yet determined.

Austell is looking toward housing for new residents and working to improve its downtown.

“The Braves will be bringing in service sector workers,” said Darrell Weaver of the city’s Community Development Department. “Austell is looking to provide housing for the workforce as part of our residential growth because land costs are lower.”

“We want to re-activate our downtown,” he said. Using data from Georgia Power economic development, the city realized that it was losing millions of dollars in a 15 mile radius from Austell residents. The city worked to reactivate the Austell business Association. Austell has purchased several holdings in the downtown area, renovating them and marketing them to new business. Two of the newest businesses are in city-owned buildings. Oz Antique Market opened the end of last year, and South Cobb Diner, a second location for West Cobb diner, is expected to open in the next couple of months.

The biggest growth is in the Cumberland area.

“Residential developments are being constructed at an all-time high right now in Cumberland,”  Rivers said. These new residential developments cause a 71 percent population increase over the next 10 years in Cumberland.

According to the Cumberland CID’s 2015 annual report, here are some projects that are coming to Cumberland:

  • 6 office, 5 retail, and 5 hotel projects.
  • 11 multifamily projects.
  • 1,582 hotel rooms.
  • 625,500 square feet of new retail.
  • 1.7 million new square feet of Class A office space delivered by 2017.
  • 6,806 housing units bringing more than 13,500 new residents.
  • $2 billion in public infrastructure improvements in and around Cumberland.

“The world is changing so much. If you look at what’s happening over here with the Braves at SunTrust Park, we’re going to be host to a lot of new people here (in Cobb),” Gary Bottoms, Cobb Chamber Chairman, said. “The chamber’s going to work really hard to accommodate in any way we can to make that a positive experience.”

From the March 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Braves Reveal Traffic Plan

With just 10 weeks before the Braves’ first pitch at the new SunTrust Park, Cobb officials are expressing concerns on whether everything will be ready.

“The Braves are going to be ready,” Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said. “The stadium will be ready. But we still don’t have agreements among multiple jurisdictions on a traffic study.”

Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce has warned that the county could not afford any missteps.

“We’re all in this ship together,” Boyce said. “We’re not going to fail on opening day.”

The Chairman in January named a 28-member joint task force for the Braves stadium with the aim of making the ballpark a success.

The task force will be an advisory body under the auspices of District Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the Cumberland area. Ott put forward a list of 28 names of private individuals, public officials and employees of the county, as well as business owners.

The Braves revealed the first facet of their traffic plan last fall, returning the starting time of games to 7:30 p.m. and noted the 14 primary access points to SunTrust Park, which will open in April.

In a mid-January briefing, the Braves and key partners unveiled Cobb County’s Transportation Management Plan. Also announced were additional game day parking spaces, a Braves-operated game day shuttle, the launch of A-List season parking sales and new partnerships with Uber and Waze.

“The amount of planning and coordination that has taken place between our organization and our partners is staggering, and today’s announcement is a testament to their hard work,” said Mike Plant, president, development for the Braves. “With three months to go until Opening Day, we have already secured significantly more parking than we had for a ballpark that is much smaller. Additionally, we have already analyzed and forecasted traffic flow through every corridor entering our development. While we know this plan will continue to evolve, we couldn’t be more pleased with where we are at this time.”

Last fall, the Braves and their partners – Cobb County Department of Transportation, Cobb County Police Department and Kimley-Horn – provided an overview of the collaborative approach to transportation management where they shared plans to return the starting time of their games to 7:30 p.m. and detailed the benefits of the 14 primary access points to SunTrust Park, which will open in April.

The Cobb County Transportation Management Plan outlines the community’s strategic approach to managing vehicular and pedestrian access to SunTrust Park. In crafting the plan, Lieutenant J.D. Lorens said the county focused on minimizing the impact of traffic on daily commuters by utilizing the 14 primary points of access to ballpark.

The Cobb County Police Department will have uniformed officers at approximately 30 intersections around the ballpark to help support game day travel. Combined with a variety of access enhancements in the surrounding area, such as the utilization of contraflow lanes – reversing the traffic flow of designated lanes before and after games – and the construction of a dedicated exit lane from I-285 that funnels into The Battery Atlanta, these steps will facilitate safe and efficient vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Lorens encouraged property owners in the area that are interested in parking vehicles on game day to apply for a permit with the County so they can work them into the overall plan.

“Our Transportation Management Plan is a working document that will continue to evolve as we move toward Opening Day and more parking lots come online,” said Lt. Lorens. “We have identified the most critical intersections based on the current distribution of parking, but we know more parking will come online as property owners in the area apply for and are granted permits to park cars. Once this takes place, we will integrate them into this plan.”

The Braves also announced they would be able to offer more than 11,000 parking spaces owned or leased by the organization for game day. This is already 2,500 more spaces than were available at Turner Field, all serving a ballpark that features roughly 8,000 fewer seats, with more parking to be added prior to Opening Day. The Braves will begin selling season parking to A-List members immediately, with single game parking to be sold when single game tickets go on sale March 10.

The Braves also unveiled plans to launch a private shuttle service that will serve both their managed parking lots and key points of interest in Metro Atlanta. Specific routes will be released closer to Opening Day.

In Waze and Uber, the Braves have identified two leaders in transportation technology to help provide for safe, efficient options for fans headed to the ballpark.

Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, will collaborate with the Braves and Cobb County to share data and real-time updates with fans and commuters. Waze currently serves more than 760,000 active users in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville area, and its real-time updates will enhance the data being provided by Cobb County DOT from its on-site traffic control center. Fans will receive directions from their doorstep directly to their assigned parking lot, each of which has its own address.

The Braves also shared updates on their partnership with Uber. The ridesharing giant has experienced consistent, strong growth in Metro Atlanta, and this partnership will offer an alternative for fans traveling to the game. SunTrust Park will feature a designated drop-off/pick-up zone on Windy Ridge Parkway, adjacent to the ballpark, enabling fans to safely and easily find a vehicle following the game.

From the February 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Cobb’s First Baby of 2017 Born in Austell

Cobb County’s first baby born in 2017 arrived at WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell at 12:02 a.m. Jan. 1, hospital officials say.

Jayce Hanna is 7 pounds, 1.4 ounces and 20 inches long. The baby boy was born to parents Verneka Hodo and Chevron Hanna of Austell. He was also welcomed by a big sister, 1-year-old Journey.

The Austell couple was given a due date of Jan. 4, but expected him to arrive before then. “I’m feeling blessed,” Hannah said. “This is the best Happy New Year’s gift ever, and it was the best way to spend New Year’s.”

From the January 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Vinings Village Civic Club Honored By VBA

VBA-DSC_2892AAAA-150x150The Vinings Business Association named the Vinings Village Civic Club as its Business or Organization of the Year at the Dec. 2 luncheon.

The Vinings Village Civic Club is the oldest civic organization in the village with nearly a century of service, according to Sharon Meinhardt, president.

The criteria for the honor involves a partnership with the community, longevity, community support and visibility, explained VBA President Charles Rea.

“We present this award for their service to the Vinings community and we thank the Vinings Village Civic Club for their Actions,” Rea said. “This group gets people involved in the community. They are the glue that keeps the Vinings community together.”

Ms. Meinhardt said she joined the Vinings Village Civic Club three years and one of her first projects was picking up trash on the roads.

“I went from picking up trash to president in one fell swoop,” she said.

While non-partisan, the group hosts political forums at each election. This year they heard 47 candidates during the forums.

“Then we invite them back,” she said, “to tell us what they are doing.”

In almost 100 years of service, the group has proved that “we mean we care about the quality of life of where we live,” she said.

Other finalists for Vinings Business Association’s Business or Organization of the year were Vinings Rotary, Curves for Women, Fidelity Bank, and Grub Burger.

From the December 2016 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Smyrna, Powder Springs Mark Veterans Day

Smyrna will celebrate Veterans Day Nov. 11, in a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial at 800 King Street.

Author Alvin Townley is the guest speaker. The event is free to the public.

Townley’s books including Defiant, Fly Navy, Spirit of Adventure and Legacy of Honor, have earned praise from The New York Times, Tom Wolfe, Michael Bloomberg, Robert Gates, Peyton Manning, and many others. He has appeared on CNN, NPR, FOX, USA Today and other local and national media outlets.

A graduate of Washington & Lee University, Townley has worked  in the U.S. Congress and as a global strategist for a top international consulting firm.  He currently serves as a leadership consultant and  director of corporate philanthropy and veterans programs at Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center.

Whitefield Academy Concert Band, Campbell Middle School Choir, and the Campbell High School JROTC will be part of the ceremony.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be inside the adjacent Smyrna Community Center.

Free event parking–street parking, City Hall and Community Center parking lots.

The Smyrna Veterans Day Ceremony is organized by the Smyrna Veterans Committee, the Veterans Memorial Association of Smyrna, American Legion Post 160 and the Smyrna Rotary Club.

Powder Springs
Powder Springs invites you to celebrate our veterans with a parade in Downtown Powder Springs on Saturday Nov. 12 beginning at 10 a.m. followed by a program in Town Square at noon.
Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. There will be food vendors and entertainment, and a special presentation by American Legion Post 294.

From the November 2016 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Clint Terza Is New Principal At South Cobb

Clint Terza DSC_1032Clint Terza, a veteran Cobb administrator, has been named principal at South Cobb High School.

Terza comes to South Cobb from Smitha Middle School, where he spent five years. Previously, he spent seven years as principal at Austell intermediate school.

“Some of the students from Austell still remember me; but they are not knee high anymore, I’m looking up at them,” he said.

He began work as principal, June 1 and was able to meet every department before staff left for the summer.

“It is my goal to ensure all students graduate from South Cobb High School, and will possess all the necessary skills to either continue their education or two or four-year college, or to graduate with a career pathway, which will provide them with an opportunity to begin immediate employment with competitive salary,” he said.

Terza’s goal is to connect with the community and staff. “I get my direction and my drive from the staff.”

“They love the community and the family feel you get here on campus. The kids are super friendly.”

Fall enrollment is expected to be slightly more than 2,000 students.

South Cobb is one of several magnet schools in Cobb. The Academy of Research and Medical Sciences at South Cobb High School focuses on opportunities in research and medical sciences.

“We have some 150-200 students in the magnet program,” Terza said. “They are the cream of the crop.”

He said school staff is meeting with the school district on how to grow the program, up to 400-450 students. The school has put funds into medical equipment and built partnerships with local hospitals and universities, such as Morehouse and Mercer.

“It is important for parents to understand their students are going to get an excellent education here at South Cobb High School,” Terza said. “We are focused on student success, academically and socially. We have an actively involved staff and they love the kids.”

“At South Cobb High School we believe all students should be challenged daily with a rigorous curriculum so they are successful in the next phase of their lives,” Terza said.

He and his wife, Lauri, live in west Cobb and have three children.

Terza had praise for former South Cobb Principal Dr. Ashley Hosey who was transferred to Pitner Elementary. “Ashley had a lot of good things in place, we just have to fine tune them,” the new principal said.

From the August 2016 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Braves Mark Another Milestone

Top DSC_0903The Atlanta Braves marked another milestone in the building of the $672 million mixed-use SunTrust Park June 13 in a topping out ceremony for the steel structure.

Braves officials, county officials, press and other dignitaries marked the raising of the topmost steel beam of the project, including the placement of a ceremonial tree and American flag to mark the highest point of the completed frame. The ash tree was selected because its wood is used to make baseball bats.

Officials and construction workers were provided a chance to sign the 1,400-pound beam before its placement 155 feet above field level. The ballpark is scheduled to open in April 2017.

“It’s a major milestone,” said Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk. “The contractor is on time and on budget. Everything looks good. This project is a major tipping point in the community economically.”

Some 6,800 tons of structural steel have been used in the building of the ballfield with 140 ironworkers – both men and women – and “thousands of construction workers” on site installing 6,800 tons of steel framework. If laid end to end, that amount of steel would stretch 50 miles.

“This is a park, not a stadium, a place to relax and cheer,” said Jenner Wood, CEO of SunTrust Banks. “It is built only for baseball.”

Chairman Tim Lee noted that the project will bring in enough revenue for county schools over the next 10 years, approximately $120 million, to pay for 290 new teachers.

“We’ve known from the very beginning this was going to be a very aggressive schedule,” said Mike Plant, the Braves’ president of development.

From the July edition of The Bright Side, covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Austell and Powder Springs in Cobb County, GA.