As Chipper Jones hung out in the Atlanta Braves dugout Friday afternoon, a few hours ahead of the Braves' first regular-season home game at their new stadium, SunTrust Park, the future Hall of Famer fielded a question about what fans might be saying as they entered the ballpark for the first time.
"I would venture a guess the word mumbled the most -- maybe not even mumbled -- would be 'Wow,'" the Braves' icon said.
"I mean, look at that video board. Look at the LED lights, the incredible Broncos Youth Jersey green grass, this incredibly orange clay. They watch how balls fly out of here and they see the skyline and everything, and they say, 'Wow.' I said it. Everybody else is going to say it. ...This is very impressive."
A sold-out crowd of 41,149 attended the Braves' first regular-season game at SunTrust Park, a 5-2 win against the San Diego Padres. But the venue, where the city meets the suburbs in Cobb County, isn't all that's new. Thanks to public funding http://www.authentictigershop.com/authentic-3-ian-kinsler-jersey.html the available land around it, a community is being constructed from the ground up, taking "ballpark development" to another level.
"I'd like to welcome you to baseball's newest gem," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said to fans during the pregame ceremony.
In addition to Jones, Braves legends Hank Aaron, Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Dale Murphy, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz were present. They were honored as theirs and other retired numbers were unveiled. Aaron threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Cox. A prominent fan, former President Jimmy Carter, also was in attendance.
Braves starter Julio Teheran threw the first pitch of the game, which resulted in Manuel Margot flying out to center fielder Ender Inciarte. Inciarte, who led off for Atlanta in the bottom of the first inning, had the first hit, reaching on an infield single. He'd later score the first run, as Nick Markakis drove in Inciarte and Freddie Freeman with a double. Inciarte also hit the first home run, coming in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was his third home run of the season.
"I'm not going to lie, I had a good feeling about tonight," Inciarte, who hit three home runs all of last year, said.
The action wasn't just limited to the field. An area geared toward children has a zip line and a climbing wall. The three-story Chop House bar was packed full of patrons, some holding beers that were aged with baseball bat wood. In the hands of many were their phones, which could help locate the nearest concession stand or bathroom.
They announced they were moving to the suburbs in 2013. At the time, Braves J. D. Martinez Authentic Jersey Club President John Schuerholz said that Turner Field, where the team played from 1997 until the end of last season, needed "hundreds of millions of dollars of upgrades." (The Braves, in their 52nd season in Atlanta, played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium from 1966-1996.)
Around the same time, city money was allocated for another stadium in downtown Atlanta, for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and MLS club Atlanta United. That venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is scheduled to open this summer.
In September 2013, the franchise created Braves Real Estate Development, LLC, the real estate holding company established by and operated as a subsidiary of the team. The Braves authorized BRED to acquire various parcels of property http://www.officialauthenticbroncostore.com/Nike-Andy-Janovich-Jersey.html build the proposed stadium and mixed-use development. The funding from Cobb County was approved not by a public vote but instead by county commissioners.
The new surrounding neighborhood, still a work in progress, is called The Battery. The Braves tout that the area, which includes housing, restaurants, a live music theater and retail, as "the first of its kind -- a destination that will simultaneously build and integrate a state-of-the-art Major League Baseball ballpark with a multi-use development and community."
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