The Braves Got It Right with Truist Park
A little over a week ago, my family took a trip to the Atlanta area for a trip centered around Atlanta Braves baseball. My son, George, has been infatuated with the Braves since early in the 2021 season. Capturing the World Series title in 2021 only cemented his support for the team.
In 2022 and into this season, if there’s a baseball game on in my house, the Atlanta Braves are most likely playing it. I rarely get to watch my Detroit Tigers or most local team, the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s hard to complain, however, given that the Braves has assembled the best team in MLB. As I shared recently on the Baseball Bucklist Podcast, I defer to George on which game we watch and I also have fond memories of following the Braves on TBS as a kid.
If you’re a fan of baseball and enjoy visiting other ballparks, add Truist Park to your bucket list. And, I have a long list of reasons why.
Countering the Trend
The Braves got it right when they bucked the trend on building ballparks in the core of the city. Sure, the concept of urban renewal is a fine cause, but it doesn’t always reflect the preferences of the fans. While downtown ballpark places the team in the center of the city they represent, anyone who’s ever lived in a metropolitan area knows that the city itself isn’t always representative of the region as a whole.
For example, I lived in the suburbs of Detroit for most of my life. When I was out of town, I told people I was from Detroit. If they were familiar with the Detroit area, they’d ask follow up question to understand what community I actually lives in. While I might have identified broader as a Detroiter, I never actually lived in the city. In fact, Detroit was notorious for moving sports teams outside of the city.
The Detroit Lions and Pistons played for several decades in Pontiac and Auburn Hills (Oakland County), some 30 miles north of Detroit. In recent years, they moved back to the city’s core. In the case of the Pistons, it was probably a mistake in terms of attendance. The Palace of Auburn Hills was a state of the art facility and updated on an annual basis. It also allowed for a suburban kid like me to get their first real job working in guest services. I have fond memories of the Palace.
On the contrary, Auburn Hills never developed anything in proximity to the Palace the way Cumberland (Cobb County) has done in the Atlanta area. The Battery District, anchored by Truist Park, offers fans a place to stay, dine and shop, all in one location. It’s clean, safe and abundant with entertainment options. It’s also easy to access parking.
The Center of Braves Country
The Atlanta Braves are also a unique team in a number of ways. When the the Braves franchise moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, there became the only franchise located in the southeastern US. Rather than the Braves gaining a fan base in Georgia alone, they would gain a following throughout the South into Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The state of Florida wouldn’t have MLB until the 1990s.
In other words, the Braves aren’t just the team of the city of Atlanta. They are one of the few franchises in baseball, based on geography, that is more of a regional team. The setup at The Battery is very inviting for fans coming in from out of town. In fact, the DoubleTree where we stayed was packed full of Braves fan in town for the weekend to see their team play.
Getting the Fan Experience Right
The environment the Braves created around the ballpark is inviting for a variety of reasons. Yes, there’s plenty of bars and restaurants for adults to hang out before and after the game. The Battery was jam packed on Saturday night. On Sunday, however, the open turfed space outside of the gates of the ballpark and in front of the Omni was full of kids playing pickup wiffle ball. As a baseball dad, who’s son is a huge Braves fan, this was a real treat.
One of the greatest parts of the past few days was George jumping into a pickup @WIFFLEballinc game in front of @TruistPark on Sun morning before the @Braves game. @BatteryPowerSBN @BravesOnBally @bravesfdn @BaseballBucket @LegendsOnDeck @coachballgame @SandlotSkills #Braves pic.twitter.com/hEq9qwFwJX
— Brian Koss (@KossCountry) July 18, 2023
George jumped right into the pickup game and played as long as we would let him. Meanwhile, we got in line of a Sunday Braves alumni, autograph session with Jo-Jo Reyes, Chuck James and Denny Neagle. George jumped in line after get got a few swings in and enjoyed meeting the ballplayers.
Braves celebrate Family Sundays at Truist Park. We got a lunch box on the way in, their Sandlot area which includes a zip-line, batting cage and other activities are also free on Sundays. The ballpark was packed with families and despite a lopsided game that went to the White Sox, it was a beautiful sunny day for baseball.
Long story short, I’ve been to a quite a few MLB ballparks in my lifetime. In 2019, I wrote LOD at the Ballpark: A Weekend at SunTrust Park – Atlanta. Four years later, my opinion of the Braves baseball experience in unchanged. In fact, I think I was even more impressed. The Braves have built the best ballpark experience in Major League Baseball. Everyone else, take note.