Heading back to Atlanta this summer with the family. It'll be ballpark #14 for most of us, and #5 for the baby. I know we're just starting the season in the new digs, but can any Chasers provide tips on SunTrust Park? Any thoughts on seats, concessions, etc? How did the team do at capturing 'history'? How is parking in the area? How family/kid friendly is the park? Is the traffic as awful as I'm imagining, based on previous Atlanta experience? Any other thoughts/observations?
I Just attended two games at Sun Trust and I have to agree with the Coles. I was not very impressed. I have been to all 30 active MLB parks [14 closed MLB parks, 6 parks in Japan, and 5 in Cuba]. I went with a friend who has been to 27 active MLB parks and we had the same opinion.
On the plus side the open concourses are nice and the monument garden is really well done. Also the entryway near the center field entrances is good. There are some excellent food options in the park. I very much enjoyed a cheeseburger from H+F [even though I had to wait 45 min in line to get it] and I had a great chopped brisket sandwich from Fox BBQ.
My primary complaint is the ballpark is boring. It’s shiny and new but there is nothing here that couldn’t have been renovated at Turner Field. Other complaints:
-The exterior of the park is not designed for people to walk around – they really want to funnel you through the battery shopping alley. I find this odd since there are statues around some of the entrances that are not easily accessible.
-I bought my tickets through a third-party vendor. The cell phone admission policy is asinine. You can only use tickets managed through the MLB Ballpark app.
-The jumbo screen in center field is high quality – however – the information displayed is lacking. There is nothing about the batter’s previous plate appearances. Player lineups don’t include number or position. At various point in the game the scoreboard will highlight the batters’ stats for things like ‘with the bases loaded’ or ‘with RISP’, at the expense of showing nothing else. The out of town scoreboard shows a minimal amount of information.
-On the upper level, the bathroom doors are propped open – which gives people walking by clear view of the stalls in both the men’s and women’s rooms.
I am also bothered by the lack of a tribute to either Turner Field or Fulton County Stadium. Other chasers can probably speak with more authority on this than I can. I have been led to believe that the break up between the Braves and Atlanta/Fulton County was unpleasant and A/FC refused to let the Braves take any of the statues that were outside the park.
After attending two games my friend and I talked about where Sun Trust ranks in comparison to other MLB ballparks. We agreed there are about 6 or 7 parks that are clearly worse that SunTrust, about 4 to 5 that are about the same in quality. And the rest [in our opinions] are all better MLB venues.
I'll reiterate the sentiments I posted on the BP Chasers FB page..
Came down from VA with a group of friends for the opener, and went again on Saturday night as well. We stayed at the DoubleTree - GREAT decision - a couple hundred yard walk to the gates, through The Battery development, which was great. For perspective: 3 guys who are baseball guys, and 3 girls who like baseball too and came along for the fun & adventure, all late 20's-to-me being the old man at 32. We had standing room tickets for Friday, and spent the majority of our time in The Chophouse bar in right field. We were in line when the gates opened at 4:30 so we could post up at a spot on the edge and be able to see the game. On Saturday we splurged for Infiniti Club seats.
Stadium itself: Nice, really nice, but far from anything groundbreaking. It really isn't any better than Turner, as far as inside-the-ballpark experience goes, in my opinion (but, I had a fine opinion of Turner, so in my mind, there wasn't much to improve upon.)
The Chophouse, as you might expect, was fun. Despite being absolutely packed the bartenders were well staffed and working hard. The beer selection was "meh". Biggest two problems were, the audio was muffled and impossible to hear inside, they don't pump PA audio into the bar area so you can't hear what is being announced. Also, the ushers faced a constant battle enforcing an invisible barrier between the bar and the railing, which they said was for fire marshal purposes. Should have had a leaning post/beer holder to provide physical separation.It was an awkward battle all night between new people/uncaring people pushing the limits, and the ushers constantly battling them. However, it was really fun, and on a less crowded night, it'd be even better.
On Saturday night, in the Club level, we were mightily impressed. Super comfortable seats, wonderful indoor concourse - once again, a disappointing bar selection despite a ton of square feet dedicated to the same 4 mediocre beers.
Wandering around the stadium, there's a cool hang out area for those who are there for the social event and not the game itself in upper right field. The 400-level concourse (if you can call it that) looked SUPER cramped, and mostly just served as feeder for the 300-level concourse. But, let's be real, it's the Braves - they won't need the 400 level seats often.
However, as unenthusiastic as I am about the BASEBALL stadium itself... the real story of this place is The Battery - the entertainment district outside the stadium. Pre- and Post-game entertainment abounds. Baseball-centric shopping (Baseballism Store, Mizzouno experience store, etc), some really good bars (depending on your style - Battery LIVE! was incredibly loud, but impressive and fun, has some games and a great 2nd-floor patio overlooking the outfield gates. Their burger was also very good. Yard House had a very good craft beer selection, a vibrant but less offensively loud environment, and fantastic food. We also saw promising pizza and beer options at Antico & Terrapin, but we could only eat/drink but so much in 36 hours!)
If they could have built The Battery around Turner, that would have been the ultimate achievement. The stadium itself is fine, has it's smallish flaws, breaks no exciting new ground, but it's a good place. The Battery is an achievement of fully immersive gameday experience. For the casual weeknight attendance, it really isn't that useful, but for weekend games, it really is successful in making you want to show up early and stick around late.
DCTWoody, I was at STP for opening night and the following night. It's a nice ballpark. Traffic is pretty thick, especially since the interstate I-85 collapse, it sends even more traffic into that part of town. If you are staying in a hotel, many of them will shuttle you there if it's close. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn NW/Wildwood, about 1.5 miles away. There was a shuttle that took us and picked us up. It was the first time for them, so still working out the kinks.
There is a walking bridge to the stadium that causes a bottleneck with foot traffic after the game. It's not an issue going to the game Hopefully, they'll figure something out about that.
Outside the park is a brand new area called The Battery, shops and restaurants and a concert hall called The Roxy. There's an outdoor stage outside the ballpark too.
Inside the park is a climbing wall and zip line for kids as well as a 40-yard dash. Also, a Braves Hall of Fame with a larger exhibit for Hank Aaron.
Seats along the first base side are more shaded than those on the third base side. Also, the lower-level seats are wider than the upper deck and are made of a mesh that let's air through for those hot Atlanta afternoon games in the summer.
Take a look at my page and I posted a few pictures earlier today.
I hope that helps!
Went to today's Cardinals vs. Braves game---the one where ATL stranded 11, including bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th (or 13th?) and lost in 14 innings. Have to say, THOROUGHLY ENJOYED the ballpark. If we lived somewhere else and attended this game as a ballpark chaser, I'd say, "why can't ATL do something like this?"
They've built a truly multi-purpose venue that should serve ATL very well for a long time. Yes, traffic is an issue, but it always will be in ATL bc we're a sprawling metropolitan area whose mass transit just doesn't fit the need.
So, these comments are more about the overall baseball experience in ATL, not just the specifics of watching a game at STP.
The Braves Monument Garden is inside the stadium, built into the main concours area. Nicely done with some classic memorabilia, Including homage to Hank Arron's 755 hits made from baseball bats, similar to Pete Rose's wall of baseballs in the Red's museum.
The attached entertainment/food venue, The Battery is very well done. Some of ATL's best restaurants, including Antico's Pizza which is not to be missed, and more shops and eateries opening soon. Big astro turf plaza for kids to run around (with coordinated games at least on Sunday) and a water play feature for summer. Don't let the line at Antico's scare you away: it moves very fast and bc the pizza is super thin, wood-fired Napoli style, takes about 10 mins. Or, head to the right side of the outdoor seating area and order To Go at the bar. Exact same food, there was no line, and several said you can take it in to the stadium. We didn't test that theory but you can sit in the Plaza area of The Battery, or find a table at Antico's. Their gelato is excellent, too.
The Mizuno Experience store let's you try golf clubs and I think running shoes; you can borrow a Mizuno glove for free at the Mizuno Glove Experience (in the stadium) to use during the game. If you like it, buy it; if you have a glove at home; just return it. Great deal for ballpark chasers who don't fly around the country with ball gloves. The main level concourse is VERY DIFFERENT from Turner Field bc it's a completely unobstructed view all the way around. No matter where you're walking, you can see the game (of course there are food carts on the concourse you have to look at certain points). No posts or pillars or steel frames, though.
The 300 /400 level concourse (it's one walk way serving both levels) is def narrow. With 40,200 today, the concession lines went from the counter to the outside wall of the concourse, requiring fans to walk through the lines. The good news is that the seats are not steep like many stadiums (KC, Toronto) and I did indeed feel much closer to the field than at Turner.
The sun moves from 1st to 3rd so by 3:30, most of 1st base side has shade; by the 5:00 1st was full shade and 3rd, even the 300 level seats, were full sun. Most of 400 level seats are under cover.
Excellent food options in the park, if you somehow didn't eat enough in The Battery before the game, especially some ATL icons like Fox Bros BBQ, Waffle House (weird location at very end of 300 level, have to turn the corner at the Xfinity roof top), Chick Fil A (open on Sunday!), H&F Burgers, and King of Pops (fantastic fresh fruit popsicles). Fresh Greens Express and Centerfield Market to Go have healthy options.
As for entertaining the kids, Will & Hope's Sandlot sponsored by Children's Healthcare includes a climbing tower, zip line, and several arcade type games re-themed to Braves Country--Whack a Mole is Chop a Mole--and there's a kid friendly, nut-friendly concession stand in The Sand Lot as well. Also a kid-friendly Braves there, too.
But, the coolest thing might be how the Braves use technology.
Braves digital team wrote an app that works inside of MLB Ballpark. Aside from the usual ballpark map and directory, Waze will use your parking pass to direct you from your garage to your parking lot--not just the ballpark. You can "Ask the Braves" for the nearest bathroom or ice cream stand inside the MLB app. You can reserve your kids' climbing wall and zip line time 24 hours ahead, instead of standing in line at the activity. Use the Braves app in MLB Ballpark to make sure you see all the points of interest at the stadium, too. The app helps direct you to them then lets you "check in" at each one to make sure you "touch 'em all."
And, there's a separate "app in an app" for The Battery with similar benefits such as direct access to Waze and Uber.
Some misc stuff: premium seats behind the plate are padded high backs (shoulder height); there are 10 "life size" (about 4' maybe) bobble heads around the park whose heads actually bobble; custom monogramming on Braves jerseys, ready by end of game; a bar in an airstream trailer; Braves drum line plays in The Battery before and after games; and plenty of alcohol and craft beers available in The Battery (I don't drink, can't review that part).
One head scratcher: no "last at bat" info on the scoreboard/jumbotron. Takes a while to get used to, especially if you don't have a score card.
Our initial reactions were probably influenced by the first game crowds, being in the upper deck, and not having researched the park very well. I left today ready to go back.