With SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves are now in a home built for baseball. Turner Field served the team well during its heyday. Atlanta benefited nicely too, making the most of its Olympic stadium for 20 years after the 1996 Summer Games.
But SunTrust Park, in suburban Cobb County, allows the Braves to be league leaders in stadium amenities. Like an opposing team stealing signals during a game, the Braves were able to pick and choose what they liked best at venues across all pro sports.
“We took what we saw from the best newer ballparks and built the best facility in an area that used to be a stand of trees,” says Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
The result is a top-of-the-line venue that players, fans and events looking for a large, unusual venue will enjoy. Heck, who wouldn’t love a stadium with an on-site Waffle House? As for Cobb County, it will gladly take the estimated $235 million in earnings the stadium is expected to generate.
Connect Sports toured the Braves’ new world before its opening day April 14. Here’s what we found from the newest, and perhaps greatest, addition to Major League Baseball’s new era of stadiums.
SunTrust’s name may be all over the park, but Xfinity runs the place. About 800 access points line the stadium, providing for a 100-gigabit network. Eric McLoughlin, director of product management at Comcast Cable, says that’s more than enough to ensure 41,000 fans can stream without interruption. “The stadium is technologically marvelous on a lot of levels,” boasts Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk.
Interaction with attendees begins before stepping on the stadium grounds. Not only can a smartphone act as a ticket, the Braves app provides directions via Waze to designated parking spots. Fans can also reserve slots for activities at Hope and Will’s Sandlot (more on that later) 24 hours prior to a game so they won’t need to wait multiple innings in line.