Atlanta’s battle to become a sports town is over

From my seat in Madison Square Garden, it looked like New York's fans definitely trumped the fans of Atlanta.

I spent the last five days in New York City (my apologies for the neglect of, and I’m blessed to have a brother who hooked up my father and me with New York Knicks tickets.

The Knicks destroyed the Orlando Magic 108-86 Wednesday night. The key part of that sentence was “Wednesday night,” because the Garden was packed. Totally full, sold out, on a Wednesday night. You’ll never see that in Atlanta, for any sporting event.

But in pondering why the Knicks can sell out a random Wednesday night game when the Hawks (who are higher in the Eastern Conference standings and a better team, mind you) would probably pull in less than 10,000 fans, I didn’t look to the players on the court. I didn’t look around the arena — Philips Arena is a much nicer venue.

To find the real reason why New York sports have such dedicated fans, you have to look underground.

It’s the subway, folks.

Update: As I was informed, there actually are MARTA stations under Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome, but as I suspected, there’s a reason why I’ve never taken those trains to get to the game:

There’s also the issue of having to drive to a station, then get on the train, which makes it more of a hassle than just driving to the stadium at times. The city is so spread out that, unlike New York, you can’t just walk three blocks to get to a station.

Have you ever tried taking MARTA from either Buckhead or Midtown to get to a Braves game? It makes driving yourself and the $10 parking worth it. Better yet, it makes you stay at home to watch the game.

That doesn’t happen in New York. Granted, the Big Apple’s sports teams have an extra 20 million residents to pick from, but they find a way to get down to the games and support their teams.

The New York Subway isn’t perfect, but for a city of that size, it’s usually the best form of transportation, and the quickest.

It would be a colossal undertaking to carve out a new underground track from Midtown to Philips Arena, and the same goes for Turner Field and the Georgia Dome. New York has huge subway stations underground, and it’s the only way to accommodate the tens of thousands of people who frequent Madison Square Garden when the games end.

Atlanta’s next mass transportation effort is to build a trolley system right down the middle of Peachtree Street to alleviate traffic problems.

That won’t help draw more fans to the stadiums.

It will only keep them further away.

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