My First Trip To Atlanta’s SunTrust Park
As April approached I had a few things going on in my life that I was focused on. Starting a new job, the baseball season, and getting to spend some much needed time with my wife during her vacation. Although we had talked about going on a spur of the moment trip to see Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, I didn’t think we were actually going to do it. I had already been off from work for a few months so I didn’t think my wife would want to spend all of that money just to continue our baseball tour. However, after we discussed it a few times, I found that the trip we were seeking to take was actually much more doable than I may have thought. Especially since I had recently landed a new job that I am starting this month. Somehow, between the Pittsburgh trip we already planned and my wife’s desire to get away for a few days, we managed to come up with an affordable plan. After her last day of work, we hopped in the car, and started driving towards Atlanta at 8pm at night!
For one thing, after years of traveling around the country and seeing other big metro areas, I have to admit that Atlanta didn’t seem as big to me as I remembered from my first visit many years ago. It was a beautiful city and is certainly big enough, but somehow it didn’t seem as massive to me. However, what did seem massive was the overall location they placed SunTrust Park. The Battery Atlanta is more or less a whole area that revolves around the Atlanta Braves. There are tons of places to eat, drink, and socialize at regardless of whether the Braves are in town or not. Many teams have a downtown district of some sort, but this particular one is on another level. It is a very clean and fun location that is filled with cool looking water fountains, tributes to the Braves, a place for kids to throw the baseball around at, and so much more. I’ve only been to 16 of the 30 ballparks so far, but I can’t remember seeing a better atmosphere directly outside of the ballpark than I saw in Atlanta.
From the moment you enter the ballpark until you leave, SunTrust Park has pretty much everything a fan could want. They do this while not being pretentious or seeming too corporate. Two games at SunTrust Park gave me plenty of time to investigate and get a good feel for what a ballgame feels like. Considering the fact that this place is about 700 miles away from home, I knew I had to get the most out of my experience. Thankfully, even before the first pitch was thrown, I already felt like I had a pretty fulfilling experience. From the enormous and delicious grilled hot dogs to the amazing Hall Of Fame section to the outfield DJ and amazing view of the field, this place had everything covered. I would go as far as to define SunTrust Park as having a small-town feel with a big city atmosphere.
For as great as SunTrust Park is, there are a few things I wish they did better. While a lot has been said about the “ChopHouse” in right field, I think it really lacked in space for people sitting inside and watch the game. It’s nice that they have big screens with the game on, but I consider it a bonus if I can watch the game while dining. I’ve also had the luxury of traveling to many ballparks who do this a little better. To the folks who live in the Atlanta area, the ChopHouse is probably an awesome feature. I won’t be a total downer and confirm that the idea of it and the layout are very cool. The people who planned and designed the entire Battery Atlanta area deserve a ton of credit. They did an amazing job! Unfortunately, this was one of the few things they could have done a little better. However, one of the bonuses of sitting in the 100 section along the third base line was the privilege of being able to go below the ChopHouse for food and drink instead of standing in long lines. Although there wasn’t anything too particularly special down there, it certainly did the job very well. They even provide your own restrooms so there are no lines for that either. This turned out to be very convenient and an amazing feature of the ballpark.
If I were several years younger, this ballpark would be number one just because of the great kids/games area out in left field. From rock climbing and sliding down the incline to speed pitch and a batting cage, there were a ton of fun activities to get lost in. I have seen some pretty cool family friendly features over the years, but SunTrust Park does this the best. It is almost like an amusement park within the ballpark. The best part about the additional features like this one is that they did it all the right way. This part of the ballpark doesn’t interfere with the feel or integrity of the game at all. Everything just blends in together so nicely. From the beautiful brick architecture to the old school layout and feel, SunTrust Park really does a great job of combining the old and the new together.
The only thing I haven’t talked about much is actually watching the game. The atmosphere is obviously great. They do a great job of interacting with the fans between innings. The tools race is great fun too. Watching the game itself is amazing, but there is one small problem. The seats are angled too much towards the outfield rather than being angled towards the main action in the infield. Many people, including my wife and I had to adjust our position in the stands so we could get a good view of the game. Otherwise you are or more less stuck staring at the outfield. This reminded me of Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Their seats are angled in a very similar way. Thankfully it doesn’t take too much away from the game, but I do think they made the seating a little too symmetrical. They did an amazing job of making sure everything came together so nicely, but I think this is one feature they could have done a little differently. Otherwise, as a fan, I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to the game.
Although the Braves are probably one of my least favorite teams in sports, I have to say that attending one of their games is a real pleasure. My wife and I made it down here thanks to her love of the Braves and our desire to check another ballpark off our list. Frankly, there might be teams that I like more than the Braves, but I would return to this ballpark in a second. It is one of the best I’ve ever been to. I can think of a few teams I like more who I wouldn’t even care if I ever went back to their ballpark because the experience just doesn’t measure up compared to my expectations. However, SunTrust Park is not one of them. They went above and beyond to give the fans an experience they deserved. Other than few flaws, this is about as good of a place as any to see a baseball game!