Atlanta Braves Bring History to the Fans at MLB's Newest Ball Park
By Betsy Ross, Contributing Writer
With the Reds on the road next weekend (August 18, 19 and 20) in Atlanta, it's a good excuse to hit the road and visit the first new ball park built in the MLB since 2012. When you think new stadiums, you think lots of premium seating, tech-friendly experiences and food, food, food. You get all that at the Atlanta Braves' new home, SunTrust Park, but you also get something unexpected: A trip back through Braves' history.
First, a little about the park itself: SunTrust Park is in the Cumberland neighborhood north of Atlanta, where I-75 and I-285 meet in Cobb County. It's nowhere near Turner Field, which had a downtown location left over from the 1996 Olympics, and it's a good half hour ride from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. That's without traffic backups, which happen regularly.
They call the mixed use area around the park, The Battery, complete with housing, retail and many restaurants. (Think The Banks on steroids: They have a Wahlburgers! And a Harley-Davidson gear shop!) But the area is also a work in progress with lots of "Coming Soon" or "Opening Fall 2017" signs.
Once you're in the park, walkways are spacious, the view of the field is expansive no matter where you are, and the food choices are varied: Get the dogs and brats if you like, but step up to field-level premium seating (for not all that much more) to enjoy choices like salmon, watermelon feta cheese and cucumber salad, crab and corn boil and open bar for beer and wine. We especially liked the Asian cuisine food stand called Intentional Wok.
But here's what makes this park special, especially for baseball historians. The Braves honor their Hall of Famers and award winners inside the park for all fans to see for just the price of a game ticket. (As one writer said, "SunTrust Park doesn't HAVE a museum, it IS a museum."). There are plaques to honor the 31 players, managers, coaches and others in the Braves Hall of Fame. An elevated walkway features a bat or glove to represent each of the 55 Braves inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The centerpiece is a nine-foot statue of Hank Aaron in mid-swing marking his then-home run record.
There are also some 300 pieces of baseball-themed artwork, a collection rivaling the one at Jerry Jones' AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
You can also see the equivalent of the team’s trophy cabinet with reproductions of Greg Maddux’s 1995 Cy Young Award, Aaron’s 1957 MVP award, Dale Murphy’s 1982 Silver Slugger Award, Andruw Jones’ 2005 Gold Glove Award and Cincinnati-area native David Justice’s 1990 Rookie of the Year Award, along with a list of all other franchise winners.
Add typical Southern hospitality to the experience and it's a very enjoyable day at the ball park. (One disappointment: We missed The Freeze, he only runs every other game, the usher told us). Haven't heard of him? Watch The Freeze video.
Delta's one-hour flight makes it convenient to get to Atlanta at just about any time of the day. Looking for location convenience and you have the time to make it a long weekend? Take Ultimate Air Shuttle to Atlanta and you land much closer to the park, at DeKalb/Peachtree Airport (they only fly weekdays).
If you don't have a car, don't worry. Plenty of hotels are within walking distance of the park, an easy way to not have to worry about traffic. The staff at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Atlanta-Galleria, just around the corner from the park, was especially helpful with suggestions on where to go--the hotel shuttle even provided a ride to Cumberland Mall just across the interstate.
Cab rides from Hartsfield-Jackson run a cool $60+. (Amazingly--or conveniently--none of our cab rides provided credit card payment options) A good way to get around is to use your rideshare app--in fact, SunTrust Park has well-marked Uber pickup points.