September 7 - At The Ballpark: Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
When the average fan thinks of Atlanta baseball, there are likely only three things that come to mind.
First, there are the 13 consecutive division championships. Second, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron called
Atlanta home for many years, and hit his record-breaking 715th home run in the old Atlanta-Fulton
County Stadium (more on that in a bit).
Last, and certainly not least, Atlanta was terrible for many years. The
Braves were Dale Murphy – and virtually nothing else – for the better part
of a decade.
Turner Field opened in 1996, the year after the Braves won their lone
world championship in Atlanta. Is this a ballpark befitting of a 13-time
champion? Let’s find out.
Much like Cincinnati, concessions are rather expensive in Atlanta, but the portions are gigantic. There
is a concesssion stand about every three sections, it seems, and there is seat service in the more
expensive seats. There is a little something for everyone at this park, whether you like regular
ballpark fare, steaks (the Chop House is located in the outfield pavilion), or barbecue (Skip and
Pete's All-Star Barbecue is close to the entry gates). The order of nachos I got was so large, I was
barely able to finish eating it.
Between-innings entertainment: B-
There were a number of trivia contests, with the usual guy roaming the crowd with a microphone. He
also had two Braves girls (women in Braves jerseys and little else) with him to mug for the camera.
To continue the overuse of the camera, they had the usual Kiss Cam, the Fan Cam, and several other
fan reaction segments. The Braves have a beautiful high-definition video board, but they seem to be
a little too in love with it. There was also a karaoke segment where fans voted on which “singer” was
better, and this was among the worst between-innings entertainment I've seen in any park.
Sight lines: A+
The beauty of Turner is that the field is accessible from every seat in the park. I took advantage of the
circular concourse to take in the game from all over the park, and you'll still see things well whether
you pay $5 or $50 for your seats. They also offer a $1 “skyline” seating section in the top of the upper
deck, and these seats are as good as those for which you would pay much more in another park.
The Braves were offering a free copy of Chop Talk, their “insider” magazine, to all attendees at the
game. The magazine is a good read, and for anyone who follows the Braves, it is quite informative.
The promotional copy even had my father, who attended the game with me, contemplating
purchasing a subscription, and that indicates that the promotion did its job.
The Braves have a number of surface lots near the ballpark from which the fans can choose,
including one right across the street from Turner on the grounds of what was Atlanta-Fulton County
Stadium. However, one thing to consider when parking at Turner is that egress is not exactly optimal,
as there are a number of traffic lights near the park, and traffic leaving the area can be rather slow.
The real jewel of the parking situation in Atlanta is the MARTA system, which allows fans from all over
the city to park for free at a MARTA station, pay $3.50 round trip, and ride a train to the Five Points
station downtown, then catch a shuttle bus to the game. The traffic situation to and from the game on
MARTA is a dream, as there are special lanes devoted to the MARTA buses. This is the only way to
go if you are attending a game in Atlanta.
Player accessibility: N/A
I arrived at the ballpark literally moments before the first pitch, so I cannot
comment on accessibility. I will say, however, that the comments I have
heard from others who attended games at Turner indicate that the players
are very accommodating.
Quality of baseball: A
The final score of the game was 9-3, but the game was very well-played
overall. The Braves only had two big innings (where they scored five and
four, respectively), and there were a number of solid clutch hits and great defensive plays. The Reds
have been considerably better since the All-Star break, and they will continue to improve with time.
Overall grade: A
Again, like Cincinnati, any gripes regarding this ballpark are minor. The only thing I would suggest
that the Braves work on is the between-innings entertainment (lose the Home Depot tool race, the
bad karaoke artists, and the Kiss Cam), but the remainder of the experience at Turner is top-shelf,
particularly if you can park at a MARTA station and leave the navigation of traffic to someone else.
I loved this ballpark, and I'll definitely be back.