SunTrust Park Gets Extra Concession Workers For Braves' Opener; Manfred Attending Game
The Braves' new SunTrust Park gets its first regular-season MLB game on Friday night, and team President of Development Mike Plant said that after "all those hours of work, the ballpark is ready," according to a front-page piece by Ricky Leroux of the MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL. Plant said that concessionaire Delaware North has "flown in an extra 200 people to work opening weekend." Leroux notes the additional workers "should reduce lines while the permanent staff learns the ropes." Plant on Thursday said, "I didn't want to see any cranes in the air, I didn't want any Georgia red clay flowing through the street. If you walk out here today, you can see we accomplished that. ... We're ahead of schedule in every single building we got here. That doesn't happen by accident" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 4/14). In Marietta, Nubyjas Wilborn notes a statue honoring Baseball HOFer Bobby Cox was "unveiled Thursday morning outside" the first base gate (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 4/14). The Braves are asking fans attending Friday's game to "be in their seats by" 6:30pm ET to "get the most out of the opening ceremonies" (MDJONLINE.com, 4/13). The AP's Charles Odum writes Friday's game will be the "first real test of the suburban park's ability to accommodate Atlanta's traffic." He also notes MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred "plans to attend" Friday's game (AP, 4/13).
ALL IN THE DETAILS: The Braves said that Baseball HOFer Hank Aaron on Friday is "scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to cap pregame activities." In Atlanta, Tim Tucker noted ceremonies before the game against the Padres will include "welcoming home" Aaron, Cox and fellow HOFers Tom Glavine, Phil Niekro and John Smoltz, as well as former MLBers Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy (AJC.com, 4/13). The Braves will open Friday "wearing newly designed batting helmets that will feature a carbon-fiber pattern." The club will be the first MLB team to "wear the helmets." The helmets also "feature a three-dimensional helmet logo of the famed Atlanta 'A'" (AJC.com, 4/10). Also in Atlanta, Steve Hummer wrote this "grand opening all would have been so much more grand if only the Braves were in the midst of a long championship run, not coming off 67- and 68-win seasons (the lowest two-year total since 1989-90)." But that is the "truth of the Braves at the moment: It is more difficult to build a team than it is to build" a $600M ballpark. Hummer: "Real estate is easy. Baseball is hard" (AJC.com, 4/12). The JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION's Tucker noted "even the Chick-fil-A cow has gone high-tech" at SunTrust Park. Rather than "holding a hand-painted sign, as the iconic fiberglass-and-steel cow did at Turner Field, it holds a electronic LED board" at the new ballpark (AJC.com, 4/11).
NO PAYING AT THE DOOR: In Atlanta, David Wickert noted for the first two games at SunTrust Park on Friday and Saturday, the Braves' parking lots will "not accept credit or debit cards." This comes after the Braves earlier announced the parking lots will "not accept cash" for the first two games. Wickert wrote the club "really, really wants fans to get in the habit of paying for parking in advance" (AJC.com, 4/12). Plant said, "We're encouraging fans to keep heeding that really good, solid advice of buying your parking in advance." In Marietta, Jon Gargis noted the Braves organization "controls nearly 15,000 parking spaces in 19 parking lots and decks around SunTrust Park, compared to about 8,700 spaces available around Turner Field" (MDJONLINE.com, 4/12).
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME: The JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION's Tucker noted the Braves expect their move to result in "sharply higher attendance this season, as usually happens when a team opens" a new ballpark. Data shows that the 14 MLB teams that have opened ballparks since '00 "posted an average attendance increase" of 28.3% in the first year. If the Braves get that lift, it would "lift their attendance to almost 2.6 million, which would be their highest" since '07. Braves President of Business Derek Schiller said, "I think 3 million is a stretch, but it's something we certainly have as a goal." Tucker noted the Braves "set a goal of selling 20,000 season tickets," which is "believed to be about double last year's total." The club "won't say how many they have sold to this point" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/13). Tucker also noted the Braves' move has "fueled a big jump in the value of the franchise" (AJC.com, 4/12).