Braves Open SunTrust Park To Favorable Reviews, Standing-Room Only Crowd
The Braves defeated the Padres 5-2 in the first regular-season game at SunTrust Park on Friday evening in front of a "standing-room only crowd of more than 41,000," according to Ricky Leroux of the MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL. It was a "historic night, marked by pregame ceremonies featuring Braves greats from years past." Baseball HOFer Hank Aaron "threw the ceremonial first pitch" to fellow Baseball HOFer Bobby Cox to "open the new ballpark." Even President Jimmy Carter "was in attendance." Meanwhile, Braves President of Development Mike Plant said that The Battery Atlanta is a "work in progress." He added that fans will "continue to see more and more elements" of the 57-acre, 1.5-million-square-foot mixed-use development "open in the coming months" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 4/15). In Atlanta, David O'Brien noted MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred attended the Braves’ home opener Friday night and "seemed quite impressed by new SunTrust Park and the surrounding mixed-use development." Manfred said, "It’s a model for other organizations. We ask our fans to do a lot. They come 81 times a year. You’ve got to make sure you have a venue that is attractive, provides entertainment alternatives and food alternatives." O'Brien noted reviews of SunTrust Park have been "favorable from fans, baseball officials and players" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/15). In Atlanta, Stephanie Toone wrote fans on social media "sung the praises" of SunTrust Park's view and the "easier commute to the Cobb County venue." Traffic before the game was a "bit of a breeze." By the end of the night, "maneuvering around SunTrust Park got a little more difficult for some residents" near the ballpark and those "attempting to get home after the game." Meanwhile, some fans reported a "credit card machine issue" at the ballpark (AJC.com, 4/15).
BATTERY CHARGED: In Marietta, Mary Kate McGowan noted Braves fans who "could not score tickets to the game milled around the Battery." More restaurants were "open for business Friday night" than the Braves’ exhibition game against the Yankees on March 31. The Braves "used the exhibition as a soft opening to work out kinks prior to Friday’s festivities, and only two businesses were open then." Five restaurants were "open Friday night." The newly opened restaurants "attracted more than a few fans to check out the Battery even though they did not have tickets to the game." Throughout Friday’s game, Braves fans "filled the Battery’s restaurants and more than 100 people watched the game on a video board in the Georgia Power Pavilion" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 4/15). ESPN.com's Bradford Doolittle wrote fans "mobbed the new bars and restaurants of The Battery, showing up early and staying late." There were "snags and snafus here and there, as there are any time a new venue opens." At one point before the game, the area of the lower concourse between Monument Garden and the team’s main merchandise store was "clogged with people." The pregame ceremonies "hit the right note, with all the franchise legends being driven onto the field to receive their due" (ESPN.com, 4/15).
ADJUSTING TO THE NEW DIGS: In Marietta, John Bednarowski wrote one of the "unique aspects" of SunTrust Park is the 16-foot wall that "works from nearly straight-away center field to the right-field line." The wall is "made up of three different surfaces." The top half is "brick and the bottom half is padded, for the most part." One "exception is a chain-link cutout area in right field." What "used to be a routine fly ball at Turner Field now has the potential to wreak havoc at SunTrust Park." Braves CF Ender Inciarte said, "We’re all going to have to be paying attention. Where it hits on the wall could send it two or three different directions" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 4/16).