View of the Playing Field from the Upper Level of Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

When we first heard that the Atlanta Braves were lobbying for a brand new stadium a few years back, we laughed. Turner Field wasn’t even 20 years old although it was widely considered a less than stellar ballpark compared to the rest of the league. This weekend our staff was excited to visit and review Suntrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, during the stadium’s inaugural season. The Braves were hosting the Cincinnati Reds.

Exterior View of Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

The setting for SunTrust Park is different than any other Major League ballpark we’ve visited so far (14 in total). SunTrust Park is located in Smyrna, Georgia; a suburb of Atlanta and in the middle of a mixed-use development known as “The Battery Atlanta”. The Battery Atlanta is one big party, especially for home games on Friday and Saturday nights. The Battery Atlanta is similar to what the St. Louis Cardinals offer at Ballpark Village outside of Busch Stadium. The Texas Rangers are currently hoping to recreate what the Atlanta Braves have done outside of SunTrust Park. In fact, MLB Commissioned Rob Manfred has stated that SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta is the model for newly built Major League ballparks from this point forward.

Atlanta Braves sign outside of Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

I would describe SunTrust Park’s setting as a ballpark located in a suburban mall area. Most Major League ballparks are located in a city’s downtown area. You’ll find some ballparks located a few miles from a city’s downtown area including Marlins Park, Miller Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium. SunTrust Park is a 20-minute drive to downtown Atlanta. There are plenty of hotels in the area that are within walking distance of the ballpark. If you want to stay right at the ballpark, stay at the Omni Hotel which is also partly owned by the Atlanta Braves. Other notable hotels in the area include the Hyatt Place, the Doubletree Suites, Sheraton Suites, Renaissance Waverly Hotel and the Hampton Inn. There are roughly 14,000 parking spots at SunTrust Park; roughly double the available parking at Turner Field.

However, this is the perfect stadium to use an Uber for. Baseball fans can park at the Galleria shopping areas for free and have an Uber driver drop them off at the ballpark. Uber drivers will always be waiting for you at the corner of Windy Ridge Parkway and Heritage Court after the game, by the way. The Atlanta Braves suggest that fans purchase a parking pass prior to the game. Parking for an individual game costs an average of $18-$25 depending on the lot. Tailgating is only allowed in lot 29.

The Battery Atlanta outside of Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

There are too many bars and restaurants at The Battery Atlanta to name. We had pre-game dinner at Wahlburger’s (as in Mark Wahlberg and the television show) which opened only six weeks earlier. “The Our Burger” is the restaurant’s staple menu item along with the “Wahlbrewski”. Wahlburger’s is a very inexpensive dining option before and after Braves home games. After the game, we ate at the Yard House which is more of an upscale sports bar setting with a menu with a wide variety of food and beverage items. Other popular restaurants at The Battery Atlanta include Todd English Tavern which is likely the largest bar/restaurant in the entire neighborhood and is the “most happening place” outside of SunTrust Park as far as we could tell. Terrapin Taproom is also an excellent option at The Battery Atlanta. For a complete lineup of shops, bars and restaurants at The Battery Atlanta, please visit BatteryATL.com.

View of Suntrust Park from the parking lot.

The great thing about going to an Atlanta Braves game if you’re coming from out of town is that you can visit without having to venture into the city and dealing with the traffic. However, there will be a good bit of traffic near the ramp off of the interstate but nothing like what you would have experienced at Turner Field. In case you’re curious, Turner Field is now unrecognizable and has been completely transformed into the home of Georgia State University’s college football team. Turner Field will also be receiving a mixed-use development outside of the stadium in the near future.

The Coors Light Chop House at Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

We entered SunTrust Park via the right field gate near section 160. There are four other entrances to SunTrust Park; the Chop House Gate (section 158), the left field gate (section 143), the third base gate (section 118) and the first base gate (section 135). The stadium has all of the modern touches. The concourses can get a little congested and aren’t as wide as some ballparks that we’ve visited. On a more positive note, you can actually see the field from the concourse unlike Turner Field where you were completely closed in. The Chop House also made the move with the Braves from Turner Field. This time, the Chop House offers a field level view of the field from the bottom of the restaurant called "Below the Chop". Fans can rent out this area as a private group.

Monument Garden at Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

If you’re an older Atlanta Braves fan, then you will love Monument Garden, located in the concourse down the third base side. There you will find a massive statue of legendary Atlanta Braves slugger Hank Aaron as well as plenty of historical Atlanta Braves artifacts. Aside from the statue, we especially loved the old Atlanta Braves jerseys displayed in sequence as well as the 31 plaques for the organization’s Hall of Fame members. The 1995 championship trophy is on display at Monument Garden in the window of the Champions Suites area. I have been to Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park and I truly believe that the monument area at SunTrust Park is even better. Sorry, Yankees fans. Fans will also enjoy statues of Bobby Cox (1st base gate), Warren Spahn (left field gate) and Phil Niekro (3rd base gate). Additionally, there are several life-size bobbleheads scattered throughout the main level concourse that make for excellent photo opportunities; especially for smaller baseball fans.

View of the field from the Home Run Porch at SunTrust Park

In terms of club seating, there are three clubs at Suntrust Park; the SunTrust Club, the Delta Sky360 Club and the Infiniti Club. Our seats were in section 155, row 5 which is considered part of the home run porch, located in right center field. I would liken the home run porch at SunTrust Park to the right field seats at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Those sections are elevated very well above the outfield. The only problem was we couldn’t see the warning track whatsoever. The view of the scoreboard from those seats was not all that good. The room for your knees was on par with the seats at other Major League ballparks we have been to. If someone wants out of the row, you will be forced to stand every single time. Tickets are not cheap. Most of the outfield seats exceeded $60 on the secondary ticket market websites like Stubhub. We didn’t venture to the upper level of SunTrust Park and rarely do for ballparks we visit unless the venue offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area. You can often tell enough about a ballpark by sticking to the lower level only.

Potato Cutter Concession Stand at Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

What are the food options like at SunTrust Park? They’re extensive. Here is a brief rundown of the most notable food options.

  • First & Third Hot Dog and Sausage Shack – Amazing grilled meats, all shipped in from Austell, Georgia. Located at the Chop House Gate.
  • Coors Light Chop House – The restaurant most synonymous with the Atlanta Braves. Located in the outfield just inside the Chop House Gate. Has two patios that overlook the outfield.
  • Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q – Located near section 153 in the outfield. Excellent Texas-style barbecue. Most menu items range from $8-$15.
  • Dippin’ Dots – Sections 111 and 145. Excellent food item for sweltering day games. They even serve them in Atlanta Braves mini-helmets.
  • Centerfield Market – Section 149 in the outfield. A great location for healthier food items as well as grab and go soft drinks.
  • Smokey Q – Whole-hog barbecue sandwiches. Located near sections 113 and 343.
  • Intentional Wok – Excellent noodles and pork dumplings if you’re not in the mood for traditional ballpark fare. Located near section 148.
  • H&F Burger – Not quite as good as Burger Republic in our opinion but pretty damn close. The meal (burger and fries) will run you $14. Located near section 155.

Overall, SunTrust Park is the venue that the storied Atlanta Braves organization needed. Turner Field was originally built to accommodate the 1996 Summer Olympics so it’s understandable that it may have never felt like “home” to the Atlanta Braves. SunTrust Park’s architecture was orchestrated by Populous and they delivered. So far this season, the Atlanta Braves are currently 11th in the 2017 Major League Baseball attendance standings so area baseball fans are showing up which will benefit the team’s payroll in the long-run. It’s fair to say that the Atlanta Braves stole elements from many other Major League ballparks around the country and incorporated them into SunTrust Park. With the renovation of Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and the construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, the city of Atlanta collectively offer the best stadiums of any city in America that offers professional sports. For an A to Z guide to Suntrust Park, please visit MLB.com.

   

 

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