This commentary was written by Phil Foley.
File this one in the captain obvious department. If there is an NBA season next year, your Atlanta Hawks will be starting their weekday games at 7:30 p.m. instead of the not-so-well-attended 7:00 p.m. start time that has plagued the Atlanta Spirit with quarter and half-filled arenas at tipoff time since the 2005-06 season (also known as the first year that the Spirit owned the Atlanta Thrashers when they actually played a hockey game).
Hawks VP of Media Relations Arthur Triche stated the obvious reason for the shift in start times to the AJC's Michael Cunningham: namely the traffic in the ATL is terrible at rush hour and it's hard to leave work, commute back to the burbs, grab a bite to eat, get the kids or a colleague and head back down to the game in a short window like 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m..
"The opportunity was there to create a better situation for those who live in suburbs to give them a chance to get to the games, and that was one of the things we wanted to accomplish," Triche said. "Hopefully it will alleviate the traffic congestion people face and presents an opportunity to get to the arena in a timely fashion."
Those of us who have sat in one of those epic Downtown Connector traffic jams as game time approaches knows that the half hour time shift does not mean an easy commute to Philips Arena. But at least you have some extra time to get down there, which should help those from the 'burbs get down to the Bulb for a basketball game.
I'm sure most Thrashers fans think, however, that the dimwitted Spirit didn't make this decision soon enough.
From personal experience covering hundreds of Thrashers games and speaking with the so-called "little people" who work in jobs in parking, concessions and security -- there are a lot more tags from the outlying counties like Cobb, Hall, Gwinnett and Fayette making the long drive from outside the perimeter to see the Thrash play than when the Hawks were lacing up the sneakers to play some hoops.