Braves by the numbers
* 2,500 people a day working on construction
* 20 restaurants in the battery
* 2.5 million square feet
* 1,600 members in the Sky Club champion suites
* 168 members in the SunTrust Club executive suites
* 4 alumni on site every Sunday for autographs and photos
* 1,100 Wi-Fi hotspots
SunTrust Park is not just a baseball stadium.
The cranes may still be up, the bridges may still be under construction, and the parking may not be fluid by the time the first pitch is thrown on the field of the Atlanta Braves’ new home field 10 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, but don’t be fooled — the fan experience is ready to go.
Among the 2.5 million square feet of field, stadium and outside-the-walls entertainment at the ballpark on Cobb Parkway in Cumberland lives the most technologically advanced ballpark in the country — it is the newest one, after all.
The Braves host their first exhibition game tonight, and while the games played and the sport itself is an — if not the most — important factor, the stakeholders involved in bringing the area to life are just as focused on making sure the fans — thousands of whom have already secured season tickets — enjoy going to a baseball game here more than anywhere else.
“We want this to be a destination 365 days of the year, not just a place to come from work and leave early to avoid the traffic, but you can stay late,” said Mike Plant, Braves president of development, at a media tour of the stadium and battery Tuesday morning.
About 30 months ago, the massive expanse near the Cobb Galleria still had trees on site, he said.
Now sits a 41,000-seat stadium, 20 restaurants, 200,000 square feet of retail space, a hotel, a concert venue, a pavilion and lawn, a 1,000-employee Comcast branch, incubator offices and 550 apartments.
“By the end of the year, everything should be done,” Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said.
There is still plenty to be done. The stadium was teeming with construction crews Tuesday when the Forsyth County News took a media tour.
Only five-seven restaurants will be open by the opening game on April 14. Only about 100 apartments are occupied. The Omni Hotel, which is sandwiched between the stadium walls and the Georgia Power pavilion and lawn overlooking the revamped, expanded Chop House, is expected to be the final touch.
Parking and traffic will certainly be in the spotlight, and no one is expecting it to run perfectly from the start.
While the details — albeit, some of them vital — will come, the field is ready. The stadium is ready. Some players even already have items in their lockers.
The Braves are ready.
“We’re here,” McGuirk said. “We could open up [fully] tonight.”
Construction and opening was ordered sequentially, ensuring the stadium was the first to be completed, then the immediate-surrounding amenities, then the outer battery.
Two events have already been held inside the park, McGuirk said, one for 375 people and another for 6,000 A-list season ticket holders.
“Seeing this ballpark through their eyes was amazing,” he said.
About 2,500 people have been working “often more than one shift a day” to get the place in tip-top shape for the fans, the whole reason the SunTrust Park and Atlanta Battery concept was born.
“The idea is you can come at 2 p.m. for a 7:30 game and have something to do,” McGuirk said.
SunTrust Park is not just a baseball stadium.
Certain outdoor suites have refrigerated tabletops to keep drinks cold. There are foosball tables on the Xfinity rooftop. The Sandlot kids’ zone has a zip line and a rock climbing wall that parents can reserve a spot for through the MLB.com Ballpark mobile app — which is also where fans can buy tickets and parking spots, view a map of the stadium and battery and even ask it questions Siri-style.
There are 800 Wi-Fi hotspots in the stadium and 300 in the battery. McGuirk said while there are 10,000 less seats than at Turner Field, the Braves’ home since the 1996 Olympics through 2016, SunTrust Park should be the fastest internet spot in Atlanta — so fast that every fan at a sold out game can stream video at the same time.
Within the brand new stadium walls and among the brand new technology and amenities, the entire history of the franchise is displayed — more than 300 pieces of art are displayed throughout, not corned into one museum, like at Turner Field — from a 9-foot statue of Hank Aaron to a painting of the home run legend made with spoons to jerseys from when the team lived in Boston then Milwaukee to the knee brace Sid Bream wore when he slid into home to send the Braves to the World Series in 1992, complete with an audio recording of the call.
Whether you go for the game, the history, the food — a Waffle House overlooking the field, or a C. Ellet’s steak form chef Linton Hopkins or just a bag of peanuts — or the surrounding entertainment, SunTrust Park is not just a baseball stadium. It’s ready to welcome you home.