With a mild sunburn and disappointment etched on my face from (yet another) Braves loss, all I wanted was to be at home. I had heard the rumors about how terrible the traffic was leaving SunTrust Stadium after the conclusion of a game, yet I was still surprised when it happened to us. After sitting in the car for over an hour just to get out of the parking deck and make it a mile down the road, I realized that we, of course, were no exception to this horrendous traffic situation.
Once we were finally going faster than 1mph, the complaining began. Both my mother and father commented on how they would never return to another Braves game if they don’t get the traffic situation figured out, while my grandfather stated that the traffic had made him wish he had not even come to the game at all. At home, my aunt told us how she had attended championship games with over 100,000 other fans, and the traffic wasn’t near as bad as what we had just sat through.
With already discouraged fans, why aren’t the Atlanta Braves and SunTrust stadium figuring out a better parking and traffic situation?
With over 8,000 less seats than its predecessor, Turner Field, it should not take the fans at SunTrust Stadium over an hour to drive a mile once the game is over. This terrible traffic is going to deter people, like my family, from coming to the Braves games. While they might not see a plummet in attendance levels this year, since it is the stadium’s inaugural season, I wouldn’t be surprised if they saw a dramatic decrease in attendance next season as well as a decrease in the amount of annual passholders, since they are dealing with this traffic on a regular basis.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing strategies, but it can certainly have a negative impact if people are speaking poorly about an organization. When my parents go tell their coworkers about how bad the traffic was leaving the game, they are now relaying negative information that may discourage their coworkers from attending the game. Social media makes a large impact as well. Once people begin taking their complaints to the next level and posting them online, they will be reaching even more people than just coworkers and close friends. From a marketing stand point, negative word of mouth can be detrimental to attendance at the games, which is what brings in revenue for the Braves. Marketing will need to be actively encouraging people to post positive reviews. They need positive reviews as well as pictures and videos of people having fun at the games, to lessen the effect of the negative reviews. The marketing team has their work cut out for them, because they are going to need to create experiences within the game that make it worth sitting in the traffic afterwards.
Marketing could make or break how attendance levels increase with the increase in traffic issues. Their marketing team needs to discover a way to make waiting in the traffic more interesting, or how to make the game fun enough for fans that the traffic is worthwhile. While I may not know the solution for the traffic crisis, I know it must be fixed if they still want to see fans sitting in the seats at their stadium. I want to be able to enjoy a Braves game with my family and friends, without dreading the ride home, just like all the other fans attending games at SunTrust Stadium.
This post courtesy of Digital Media Intern, Taylor Lanfear