The first pitch of Atlanta Braves baseball in 2017 will swing in a new era with the opening of SunTrust Park in Cobb County.
The Braves' move from downtown to metro-Atlanta caused quite an uproar for Braves fans, especially those in central Georgia who opposed the extra drive time.
WMAZ took a Braves fan from central Georgia to the new stadium and verified the travel time.
Nate Curran has been a Braves fan since he was about 10 years old.
"You know during opening week or during the playoffs, there wasn't a time when I didn't go to school without a Braves shirt," Curran said.
He attended his first game in 1997, the first year the Braves played in Turner Field.
"I've always said it's one of the most relaxing things to do," Curran said. "It's one of my favorite places on earth."
But watching games at the Ted is now a thing of the past for Braves fans, and Curran was one of the lucky 51,220 people to catch the final game at Turner Field.
"That was a pretty crazy thing," Curran said. 'When you walked in, you saw every seat had a tomahawk on it. You might laugh, but I'm actually still choked up about that."
Curran and other Braves fan in central Georgia worry if SunTrust Park, which is 16 miles north of the Ted, will have the same experience.
Curran joined sports reporter Jonathan Perez and producer Jeff Vinton on a road trip up to Cobb County to see how long it would take and what the new stadium has to offer.
The team left at about the time fans would leave from Macon to make it up to Atlanta for an evening game.
About an hour into the drive, they passed the old stomping grounds of the Braves, and it brought back great memories for Curran.
"The lights coming on when (John) Smoltz would come out when he was a closer and "Thunderstruck" would be playing, that was really fun," Curran said.
After a relatively smooth drive, the crew found the stadium fairly quickly after getting off the highway.
The total travel time: one hour, 29 minutes and 39 seconds.
The stadium is not quite ready for fans and the Braves organization is redeveloping the area around the stadium into "The Battery Atlanta," which will be full of restaurants, hotels and what the team calls and "immersive fan experience."
"So, if you are coming up from central or south Georgia, we are working on getting you here efficiently and we are hoping you stay and make a weekend out it," Braves director of digital marketing Greg Mize said.
As for Curran, he's ready for the new era of Braves baseball. He has tickets on the third base line for Opening Day, April 14.
"I just really want to go to a Braves game really, really bad and get in (SunTrust Park) and root for the team," Curran said.
He is happy to be making new memories at the new home of the Braves.
The Braves will have a media tour in March when construction at SunTrust Park is complete and 13WMAZ is planning to give you a glimpse of the inside of the stadium next month.
As far as parking at SunTrust Park, the Braves have a partnership with the Waze app, according to their transportation website, BravesUpdate.com.
All you will have to do is plug in your parking lot and the app will direct you directly there in the fastest amount of time possible by giving fans real-time traffic updates.
Cobb police will also watch 30 intersections around the stadium making sure that fans will be able to quickly get to and from the stadium and ensure safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists.
Fans are also encouraged to purchase parking when they are buying their tickets. Fans will be able to choose which parking lot they want to park in, and it can be based on which direction fans are traveling from.
In total, the Braves will have more than 11,000 spots available for drivers, and they are looking for more. The team will also offer shuttles from their furthest parking lots to SunTrust Park.
The Braves also have a partnership with Uber and will have a designated drop-off point for all fans using the ride-sharing service.
If fans want to use MARTA to get to the game, they can take it to the Midtown Arts Station and then hop on the CobbLinc Bus and take either route 10 or 10A to the Cumberland Transfer Center, and then get onto the Cumberland District Circulator, which will take fans straight to the stadium.
To get more information on transportation and parking, click here.
To follow the progress of the SunTrust Park, click here.
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