How opening crowds compare in Atlanta Braves’ three stadiums


How opening crowds compare in Atlanta Braves’ three stadiums

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Fans try to catch the home run ball by the Braves’ Brandon Phillips in the sixth inning Saturday at SunTrust Park. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, the early buzz in Atlanta sports.

History buffs might wonder: How did the attendance for the first four games at SunTrust Park compare with the crowds for the first four games in the Braves’ two previous Atlanta homes?

We looked it up:

  • The Braves’ first four regular-season games at Atlanta Stadium (later called Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium) drew total attendance of 98,596 in April 1966, an average of 24,649 per game. The first game drew 50,671, but attendance fell off sharply for the next three home games.
  • The Braves’ first four games at Turner Field in April 1997 drew a combined 163,124, an average of 40,781 per game. The first two games drew 45,000-plus, while the fourth game drew 31,064.
  • And in their first four games at SunTrust Park, the Braves have drawn 143,961, an average of 35,990 per game. The first two games drew sellout crowds of 41,149, while the third and fourth had attendance of 37,147 and 24,516, respectively.

(There are all sorts of variables that you can consider along with the preceding numbers. The Braves’ two previous stadiums had larger seating capacities than SunTrust Park. On the other hand, metro Atlanta now has a lot more people to draw from than in 1966 or even 1997. Turner Field’s opening had the benefit of a team coming off back-to-back World Series appearances. The actual turnstile count was announced as the attendance in 1966, but since 1993 the announced figures have been for tickets sold or distributed.)

Fans leaving SunTrust Park after the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Diego Padres (5-2) on opening day.

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Next question: How does the Braves’ 4-0 record in their first four games at SunTrust Park compare with their record in the first four games in their past two stadiums?

They won the first four (actually the first five and 12 of the first 13) at Turner Field in 1997.

They went 2-2 in their first four at Atlanta Stadium in 1966 (losing the first two, then going on the road before winning their next two at home).

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Despite the Braves opening SunTrust Park and the Hawks opening the NBA playoffs, the highest-rated sports event on Atlanta television over the weekend was the Golden State Warriors’ playoff game Sunday afternoon.

The star-laden Warriors’ Game 1 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on ABC drew a 5.6 Nielsen rating in the Atlanta TV market.

The Braves’ home opener Friday night at SunTrust Park drew a 5.0 rating locally on Fox Sports Southeast.

The Hawks’ playoff loss at Washington on Sunday afternoon posted a combined 4.6 rating in the Atlanta market on TNT and Fox Sports Southeast.

The other two Braves-Padres games over the weekend drew local ratings of 3.5 Saturday and 2.9 Sunday.

The rating is the percentage of the market’s TV households watching on average.

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