The task of going to an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field used to offer several options–among them simply driving and parking, taking a MARTA Blue or Green Line train to the Georgia State Capitol station and walking, or taking any MARTA train to the Five Points Station and hopping on a free (for train riders) “Braves Shuttle”, which took riders directly to Turner Field and back to Five Points after the game.
This last option was probably the most popular of the three, Atlanta traffic being what it is and Turner Field parking costing as much as it does (although it is cheaper than many ballparks, I will grant). It was a rather simple, inexpensive way for Braves fans to get to a game.
Apparently though, as I write this, the Shuttle is no more. MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) has been losing money in a struggling economy, being funded by suburban counties that have lost considerable tax revenues. As a result, along with upwards of 300 MARTA employees being laid off, services like the Braves Shuttle are being cut. Needless to say, Braves fans are not happy about this development, and I’ve read a few angry comments on blogs suggesting that they will not be attending Braves games this year.
It’s understood the new dilemma that has been created. The latest I’ve read from the excellent Braves blog called “Talking Chop” is that the Braves are considering funding the shuttle, but this was in July, and I have not yet heard word since then. The Braves do still, however, mention the Braves Shuttle as a way to get to the game on their own website–and if it’s not going to be available, I would hope they would let people visiting Atlanta this summer for a game (myself, for instance) know well enough ahead of time.
And of course it causes me stress; not only was I going to use the Shuttle myself, but it is a key tip in the (coming in 2011!) Turner Field E-Guide. But Ballpark E-Guides never backs down from a challenge, and I will get on this and find alternatives as soon as possible.
One thought that comes to mind is the same thought I had when I heard that the Nationals were discontinuing the Nats Express from RFK Stadium–why not charge people a buck or two to ride the shuttle? Surely someone could figure out how much to charge to make the option break even or even be profitable. I am sure Braves or Nationals fans would pay a small fee to have a convenient avenue to get to the game, and in the case of the Braves Shuttle, MARTA would be keeping the Braves fans riding the trains to games as customers–which they need in times like these.
But working for a government contractor like I do, I know whether or not an idea makes sense is rarely a consideration for its implementation. All the same, I contacted MARTA and asked anyway.
In the meantime, Braves fans can either drive to the game and park at Turner Field, or make the rather lengthy walk from the Georgia State Station. Quite frankly, neither seems all that great, especially with presumably more folks needing them.
I’ll let you know what MARTA thinks of my idea.
UPDATE 2/12/2011: As expected, MARTA did not give my idea any consideration; I doubt they even read it. I was sent a very generic e-mail saying that the Braves Shuttle has indeed been discontinued. Well, heck, I already knew that.
The cost of baseball games has never been relatively cheap. People my age tend to wax reminiscent about how the whole family could go to the park on game day and get four tickets for $5. Of course, back then you worked for about three hours to earn $5, and people moaned about how overpaid ballplayers were then.
That isn’t to say that the price of baseball games in major league parks hasn’t become unreasonable, especially when star minor leaguers want an $11 million signing bonus before seeing a single major league pitch. When the Yankees cut their Legends Suite ticket prices in half last season, the price of a seat went from utterly insane to still pretty nuts.
But the Atlanta Braves, a team that many think will be competitive this season, have been countering that with bygone-era ticket pricing in what they call “Skyline Seats”. These seats, on game day, are going for the 1950s price of just $1 a game.
Of course, these aren’t exactly “club” or “legends” or “royal box” or whatever such seats are called in most ballparks these days. The SkyLine seats are in Section 422 in left field and in Section 437 in right field. They are the outermost sections in the upper deck and have only 3-4 seats per row. You might see Bob Uecker up there. Even so, from what I’ve read, the Braves aren’t particularly tough on seat poaching. After a couple of innings, if you don’t get greedy, you should be able to move to a much better seat with no problem. The Braves haven’t sold out many games in recent years. My first Braves game was in 1999, in their heyday, and I was able to move from an outfield seat to an upper deck seat near home plate in the 4th inning.
If you’re an honest sort who stays in his or her purchased seat (a respectful position with which I admire), you need to know that the Hotlanta sun bears down on the right field seats until well into the evening, while the left field seats are in the shade early. And Section 422 is still in foul territory, making it a slightly better view.
Or you can scrap the seat altogether and see the game in the party atmosphere of the Turner Field Chop House in center field. And buy a meal with the money you’ve saved.
The tickets are put on sale 2.5 hours before gametime at the ticket office near the Braves Museum. You can only buy one at a time and must enter the park immediately after buying the ticket. You should get in line early because they go fast.
It requires a little thought and advance planning, but you can’t beat going to a ballgame with your pocket change.
Next Tuesday, I will be going somewhere I haven’t been to in almost nine years–I will be attending a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
I won’t go into detail, but when Cal Ripken Jr. retired, it kind of ended things for me as an Orioles fan. Once Cal was gone, it was as if the last link to their great past was severed. I guess I picked a good time to bail out, since the team has been painfully bad for years. I don’t know if I could have handled a 30-3 drubbing at home. They’re still my team, but I will need some encouragement to start going to games regularly again. Like Cal becoming the GM.
All of that said I do really miss Camden Yards. It is still my favorite place on earth to see a baseball game. Oriole Park is still the standard even as 19 beautiful new ballparks have sprung up since. It is somehow both reverent to its predecessors and at the same time completely original.
But I digress. For the 2010 season, the Orioles are giving away a free ticket to fans for their birthday months, and my wife (who, God bless her, was kind enough to be born in April as well), my sister (born in March) and I will be taking advantage of the opportunity to see a free ballgame.
Go to the Orioles’ website, specifically the birthday section, enter a bunch of personal information in order to receive approximately 10,000 promotional e-mails per month from the Birds, and they send will you an e-mail voucher. You can then take this voucher to the ticket office on game day for a free upper reserved ticket. What’s a better birthday gift than a ballgame?
The Atlanta Braves offered this promotion last season, but I couldn’t find anything saying it was being offered this year, so I assume it isn’t unless they’re keeping it a secret (I could e-mail them and find out I suppose, but I’m not going to Atlanta anytime soon). Given that the Braves are likely to be competitive this season, they’re probably expecting not to have to give tickets away just to get people in the park to buy souvenirs and hot dogs. The Orioles, having had 12 straight losing seasons, suffer no such quandary. No other team that I know of is offering this, but I haven’t checked them all, and chances are if a team is bad, they might.
The best part is I can take a bunch of pictures for my Oriole Park chapter that is more or less complete, check out whether all of the tips in it are valid, and get a free Matt Wieters T-shirt for showing up on a “T-shirt Tuesday”, all without spending a dime except for gas and parking. The only green I’m likely to part with inside the place is at Noah’s Pretzels, where I can buy the celiac-afflicted love of my life a gluten-free soft pretzel.
The Orioles could stand to cut a fan some slack after they charged me to watch Matt Riley get his lunch from the Yankees back in 1999. There should have been a refund for O’s fans that night. Heaven knows the Orioles made a bunch of money, and not all of it deserved, from this fan. I should be in their Hall of Fame as a benefactor.
Nevertheless, I’ll take this, and it’s a pretty cool thing for the Birds to do.
Free birthday ticket from the O’s here: www.orioles.com/birthdays