Posted by: furmanbisher | May 27, 2009

The Gravy Train

Someone addressed a subject in “The Vent” the other day that has dogged me since the first I heard of it. Which was in a hotel room in Barcelona during those Olympic Games in 1992. Some of us were having a relaxed discussion with Billy Payne, mainly about what we could expect of the 1996 Games coming to Atlanta. The new stadium was one of the topics, and it was then that I asked about a MARTA station, and how surely the line would be extended, then Braves fans would get a break down the line as well.

“Oh, no,” said Billy, the moving force behind Atlanta’s Olympic movement. “There’ll be no MARTA station at the stadium.”

I was astonished, as were others in the room. “No MARTA STATION???!”

It was just a few decibels below a scream. “Olympics Games, a new stadium, and no MARTA station?” I said. “That makes no sense.”

“No,” Billy said. “The Braves don’t want it, and they will be using the stadium after the Olympics.”

“The Braves don’t want it?” I repeated, stunned by what he’d said. “The Mets have a rail station right at the entrance to Shea Stadium, and Atlanta has the Olympic Games and a new stadium but no MARTA station? I don’t see how that can be!”

But it was, and it is. The Olympic Games came and went, and the same, awkward, train-bus public transportation means of eventually reaching what is now known as Turner Field is still in effect.  Oh, I forgot to mention the parking, didn’t I? The Braves don’t want MARTA, the fan be damned…and why? The parking income they get is more important to the baseball team that the convenience of a MARTA rail line and station.

By this time, I’d imagine getting the city rail there would be an improbable project, not being familiar with all the involvements. But imagine, if you can, what a convenience it would be, and how it might increase attendance. Denial of the opportunity is a disgrace, and a flagrant disregard of the Braves’ fan, and a horrid example of corporate greed. Instead, the Braves have their own train—a “gravy train” that comes with their parking income.


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