SunTrust Park – Atlanta Braves
SunTrust’s Sophomore Season
After opening with quite a flourish in 2017, SunTrust Park is now in its second season of operation. Its inaugural season was quite successful, as attendance increased by 200,000 fans and it was recognized by several sports publications as the Ballpark of the Year. The off season allowed the Braves management to evaluate what did and did not work for fan engagement and they have incorporated several changes for the 2018 season.
Food & Beverage 3
Like most professional sports facilities, the Braves have diversified their concession offerings beyond just the standard stadium fare. SunTrust Park offers two sit-down restaurants that are available to all fans. Fox Brothers BBQ has partnered with Terrapin Brewing to offer a great BBQ meal with an in-house microbrewery. (Make sure you try the Chopsecutioner, a craft beer that incorporates baseball bat chips to heat the beer during the brewing process.) The very popular Chop House made the trip up from Turner Field and has expanded to three levels. Two levels feature views looking out over the field, while the bottom floor is at field level behind the right field fence. Below the Chop is available for group reservations only.
Concession stands are found at each level of the stadium with a world-wide set of food offerings. These include pizza (The Slice), Mexican fare (The Taco Factory), sausages (the Sausage Haus), and Chinese food (The Intentional Wok). For those concerned about healthy food choices, the Braves are part of the Field to Fan program, which uses locally sourced organic food providers. The stadium also offers a stand featuring vegetarian and gluten-free food selections (Field of Greens)
For traditionalists, the Baseball Classic stands offer hot dogs ($6.50), hamburgers ($7), pretzels ($5.50), popcorn ($6), and peanuts ($5). Coca-Cola brand sodas ($5.50) and bottled water ($5) are available as well. A 24-ounce domestic draft beer is $10 and craft beers are $9.50.
One area of improvement over the inaugural season is the hiring of more concessions vendors to roam the stands. In 2017 the team used vendors in only certain areas to lessen the likelihood of the vendors blocking the fans view of the game. This resulted in the concourses being jammed with long lines throughout the game and fans missing much of the action on the field. The flow on the concourse is much smoother in 2018.
The atmosphere at Braves games has improved greatly since the move to SunTrust Park. Fans now arrive well before game time and stay well after the game ends to enjoy the amenities provided within the Battery. Once inside the stadium, fans are able to enjoy a much more comfortable environment, as the concourses are now air conditioned and the 90 foot canopies atop the stadium help to provide shade for 65% of the seats from the sweltering sun of a Georgia summer.
SunTrust Park is 10,000 seats smaller than Turner Field, resulting in a much more intimate feeling of being near the playing field. Thanks to a cantilevered seating design the Braves boast the highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any other park in the major leagues. This does have one drawback to be aware of: Fans should avoid purchasing seats in the first 15 rows below the concourse in the 100 level as you will have an obstructed view of the scoreboards.
SunTrust Park creates a great baseball atmosphere through its very well-designed Monument Garden. This area along the first base concourse salutes the Braves history throughout the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta eras of the club. Its centerpiece is a nine foot tall statue of Braves Hall of Fame member Hank Aaron.
The neighborhood surrounding SunTrust Park is known as the Battery. It features a live/work/play environment with retail, more than 20 restaurants, several bars and nightclubs, a hotel, a concert venue/theatre, apartments and other services. It provides plenty of activities for fans to enjoy before or after the game…. something that did not exist at Turner Field. The development has been successful thus far, as the restaurants and retail have thrived even during the off-season. The Battery continues to grow as new stores are opening during Phase II of the buildout.
Among the new restaurants opening since the 2017 season are Wahlburgers, Punch Bowl Social Atlanta, Goldberg’s Bagel and Deli, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, El Felix and Achies. The Omni Hotel has also opened. It is located just outside of the Chop House Gate of the stadium, with rooms looking down into the field. Registered guests can even watch the games from the comfort of the rooftop pool, which is only 580 feet from home plate!
For detailed information on the Battery and its directory of facilities, go to www.batteryatl.com.
The Braves were the original MLB franchise in the South, and to a large extent they are still the favorite of fans from throughout the Southeast. It is not unusual to see license tags from the Carolinas, Tennessee and Alabama in the parking areas surrounding SunTrust Park. Many families travel over to Atlanta for a weekend series, and Braves games are a very popular event for family reunions due to the convergence of so many interstate highways in Atlanta.
SunTrust Park offers fan friendly meeting places both inside and outside of the stadium. The central point to meet prior to the gates opening is the Fan Plaza outside the Chop House Gate in the Battery district. Activities get underway well before game time with performances from the Heavy Hitters Drumline and the Tomahawk Team Dancers. Fans can also choose to have a pregame drink or dinner at one of the many pubs and restaurants lining the plaza.
The Chop House gates open two hours before game time, giving fans plenty of time to check out the stadium. Families with children gravitate towards the Hope and Will Sandlot. Sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Sandlot features a midway of child friendly games and entertainment. Among the favorite activities offered are the zip line, the climbing wall and the baseball related skills tests. Adults tend to head towards either the Chop House Restaurant to stake out a spot overlooking the field or head to the Xfinity Rooftop. The Rooftop features stunning views of the stadium and the areas surrounding the stadium, while offering ping pong, foosball and a bar serving drinks out of an Airstream Trailer (now how did they get that up there?)
The 2018 season is an important one for the Braves as they continue rebuilding the team to its glory days of 1990-2004. They realize the spike in attendance in 2017 was due in large to fans from around the country coming to check out the first new MLB stadium in five years. The two things that will continue to fill the seats are winning baseball on the field and an excellent fan experience in the stands. The Braves have adopted the theme “Welcome Home” to focus on the locals who are the key to the success of the park.
One of the greatest areas of concern when the location of SunTrust Park was announced was traffic. The stadium sits atop one of the busiest interstate interchanges in the state (I-75 /I-285). The Braves have done a masterful job in utilizing technology, reworking existing roads, staggering the starting times of games, utilizing ridesharing services and the implementation of a circulator bus system in the area to deal with the game day traffic. In addition, they supported use of area walking and biking trails that weave through the Cumberland area of Cobb County. While traffic in Atlanta will never improve, the anticipated gridlock due to a Braves game has not arisen.
Braves official have partnered with the WAZE app to guide fans from their doorstep to their parking space in the most efficient matter. Uber has dedicated pick-up and drop-off lanes just outside of the stadium and has added a second location for 2018. The CobbLinc transit busses pick up fans from area hotels, shopping areas and office parks, which further thins out the traffic near the stadium.
One aspect of the Braves traffic plan can cause some confusion to visiting fans. All stadium parking is on a pre-purchase basis. Parking lot passes are purchased at the same time as tickets are purchased. The only exception to this rule is in the Red Deck, where credit cards will be accepted the day of the game. In this way, fans avoid roaming around looking for a parking space, as is the case at many stadiums. The Braves have parking decks adjoining the stadium and use contracted lots in the office parks surrounding the development. The WAZE app provides drivers with the exact route to their specified lot. The parking lots form a 360-degree circle around the stadium, so that no one side of the stadium has an excess of traffic. While there is no perfect solution to Atlanta’s traffic woes, the Braves have done an admirable job in addressing the issue.
Return on Investment 3
The Braves utilize a variable pricing structure like the airlines… the more in demand the game is, the higher the price. To get the lowest prices 1) buy your tickets as early as possible 2) try weekday games rather than weekend games 3) avoid series against opponents such as the Cubs, the Mets or the Nationals or interleague games involving the Yankees or the Red Sox. Here is a high/low range for ticket prices at the various seating levels: Lower level ($29-$143), Terrace level ($34-$67), Upper level ($12-$23) General Admission is $10 depending on availability.
Parking is on a pre-purchase basis. Lots are priced based on their distance from the stadium, but all are within walking distance. A map of the various parking lots and their fee is found on the Braves website. The Red lot is the most expensive at $21, but it delivers you directly into the Battery District and a block long walk into the stadium.
Concession prices at SunTrust Park are expensive for the quantity and quality of the food. If you are going to spend money on food, try one of the many great restaurants just outside the stadium gates in the Battery
The Battery is a one of a kind live/work/play neighborhood just outside the gates of SunTrust Park
Life-size bobbleheads of Dale Murphy, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Phil Niekro, Bobby Cox, Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, John Smoltz. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are located throughout the park. Go on a scavenger hunt and see if you can find all 10!
Sunday games feature Alumni Sundays. Retired Braves players do free autograph signings beginning at 11:30 am on the Fan Plaza just outside the Chophouse Gate.
The Braves are sponsoring several promotions throughout the 2018 season related to Chipper Jones. The Braves longtime third baseman is the latest Atlanta player to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He joins John Smoltz, Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Phil Niekro and Hank Aaron in Cooperstown.
One of the most popular sections of SunTrust Park is Monument Grove. Located along the first base concourse, this museum / Hall of Fame salutes the history of baseball’s oldest major league ball club. The displays not only cover the Atlanta era, but also salute the Braves years in both Milwaukee and Boston.
After a very successful inaugural season at SunTrust Park, the Braves are not resting on their laurels. Several new features have been added in 2018 to make the fan experience even more memorable.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
No writeup submitted.
Aside from the Battery, there is not much to distinguish this ballpark from Turner Park or many other new ballparks. This is the new version of the cookie cutter ballpark. There are plenty of nice features here, and plenty to keep the casual fan occupied. The Hall of Fame is nicely done, if smaller than expected. Serious access issues, both inside and outside the ballpark, and expensive prices knock down the rating.
The Battery area around the park is surprisingly good. The heritage area is definitely worth walking through and the many bronze statues are a salute to the Braves long history. Good tickets can be had for 20. Considering I liked Turner Field, SunTrust Park was a pleasant surprise.
The ballpark has many pluses and already seems like a better home than the team&#039s previous homes. The neighborhood still seems like a work in progress, as does some of the overall ballpark atmosphere. I would like to re-observe it a few years down the line.
Nice new digs for the Braves
No writeup submitted.
Fans who have previously attended Braves games at Turner Field will immediately notice a number of improvements designed to improve the fan experience. Upon entering the stadium you will notice that the concourse area is open to the field… so that you will not miss any of the action during trips to the concession stands or other areas. It is also air conditioned a major change from the sweltering concourses at Turner Field. Another major change in the concourse area is the removal of the formerly fee based Braves Museum and the addition of the stunning Monument Garden area. This area salutes Braves history from its days in Boston right up to the present. There are artifacts from each Braves team member who is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as an exhibit featuring the various Braves uniforms during the years. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a new nine foot tall statue of home run king Hank Aaron. Behind his statue is art installation using 755 baseball bats and spelling out “755” … Aaron’s final home run tally.
The Braves did a great job with their new park. The Battery is the perfect option pre-game, but get their early before the restaurants fill up. Also enjoyed seeing Monument Park so accessible, and so many options for fans of all ages to be entertained. Pretty cool to see the &quotTomahawk Chop&quot live too.