The Braves' Home Opener is April 14 against San Diego – the Braves' first official game in the new park (though the Braves did play one exhibition game at SunTrust Park). I went to check out the new baseball stadium recently (to watch my Missouri Tigers beat the Georgia Bulldogs). Here are a few highlights and tips I gathered:
Since the stadium is new, it will be wise when going for the first time to arrive early. The east lots, for example, are on the opposite side of Interstate 75 from the stadium, and, unless you know that, it can be confusing. Driving south on I-75 and exiting at Windy Hill Road, it’s easy to miss the small sign that points left for the east lots. To further confuse you, your brain will be telling you that you’re going away from the stadium (so you must be going the wrong way.) The north and south lots are closer to the stadium, but in my case, the east lot where I parked made for easy and quick access onto I-75 North after the game.
This new entertainment complex that is directly outside the gates to the stadium makes getting there early a breeze because you can shop and eat at The Battery. No matter how frustrated you may become figuring out where your parking lot is after battling traffic, once you are inside The Battery, you can kick back and relax before heading into the ballpark.
Rest assured, there is plenty traditional stadium fare (read hot dogs and fries) at SunTrust Park, but there are some unexpected food choices, too. At the Centerfield Market, you can get sushi, salads, ice cream and hard cider. At the Intentional Wok, choose from pork dumplings or chicken pad Thai noodles. The longest lines the afternoon I was there were at, no surprise, H+F Burger, and, surprisingly, Dippin’ Dots.
The younger set is going to have a ball at SunTrust Park. There’s a zip line, a climbing wall, a straightaway where kids sprint to see how fast they can run the distance between home plate and first base. When the runner’s time shows on a digital screen, he or she can see how their time compares to the time of various Braves players. And that’s not all. There is an arcade where kids can play carnival-type games. Instead of Whack-a Mole, kids play Chop-A-Mole. During hot summer games, kids will enjoy cooling down on the splash pad.
If you want to stretch your legs, head to the concourse behind centerfield, where there is room to stand with a nice view of the field.
Well, who knows, but my friends and I thought this might be a stadium where fans see quite a few balls clearing the outfield fences. Yes, it’s 400 feet to centerfield, but, sitting where we were, just off third base, home runs looked very possible.
Relive the glory days in the beautiful Monument Garden where stars of Braves history shine.
Journalist Carol Carter was founding editor of once-upon-a-time Braves' fan magazine, ChopTalk.