Swift sellout of SunTrust Park’s opener frustrates some Braves fans

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Swift sellout of SunTrust Park’s opener frustrates some Braves fans

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March 8, 2017 Atlanta - New SunTrust Park view from The Battery Atlanta plaza on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The very first Braves home game will be against the New York Yankees on March 31. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Tickets for the Atlanta Braves’ opening night at SunTrust Park sold out within minutes Friday, leaving many fans frustrated and wondering where all the seats went.

The Braves put single-game tickets for the 2017 season on sale to the general public for the first time at 10 a.m., and shortly thereafter the team said it was “pleased to announce” the April 14 regular-season opener in the new Cobb County stadium had sold out except in still-available season-ticket packages.

Braves fan Curtis Herd said he attempted to place an online order for two tickets to the opener as soon as sales began, but “within 25-30 seconds I was sent to the no-tickets-available screen.”

“I continued trying for about 10 minutes before I gave up,” he said by email.

Another fan, Joseph Storelli, reported he was able to purchase an opening-night ticket “after much trouble.”

The Braves wouldn’t say how many opening-night tickets in the 41,000-seat stadium were made available to the general public Friday. Derek Schiller, the Braves’ president of business, said the number was “in multiple thousands,” but he wouldn’t be more specific.

“There were a lot of people trying to get opening-day tickets, all at the same time,” Schiller said. “With this being a new ballpark and all the excitement around it, there was just extremely heavy demand.”

The vast majority of seats for the home opener against the San Diego Padres had been purchased previously as part of full-season and partial-season ticket packages and through various pre-sales. One pre-sale was for season-ticket holders seeking additional tickets, and another was for past customers who had registered their email addresses with the team.

Early look at SunTrust Park

The Braves invited about 60 journalists to tour the new SunTrust Park. There'll be no construction cranes on opening day, but there'll still be plenty of work going on. (Video by Ben Brasch)

In addition, opening-night tickets went to the Braves’ corporate sponsors and “other VIPs,” Schiller said.

“We’ve had a lot of success with the sales for the past year-plus of season tickets,” he said. “Our sponsorship sales and related tickets that associate with those have been very strong.”

He said the tickets made available Friday for the home opener sold out within “about 20 minutes.”

On social media, many fans complained that they were unable to get tickets despite attempting to purchase at 10 a.m. sharp. Others reported that they were able to purchase tickets, sometimes after multiple tries.

The Braves said there were no technological glitches with the online sales system Friday, although the team acknowledged a glitch during an earlier pre-sale.

Another factor in the shortage of opening-night tickets: SunTrust Park has 9,000 fewer seats than predecessor Turner Field. And while Turner Field’s seats were rarely filled in recent seasons, the home opener was one of its bigger draws each season. The opener last season drew 48,282, which is about 7,000 beyond the new stadium’s seating capacity.

Single-game tickets also sold out Friday for the second regular-season game at SunTrust Park, on April 15. Tickets remain available for the season’s other 79 home games, Schiller said.

He added that the Braves plan to make available 1,000 or more standing-room-only tickets for the April 14 and 15 games. Those are expected to go on sale April 10, he said.

Meanwhile, seats for the April 14-15 games remain available in season-ticket packages of 27 to 81 games. The Braves held back an undisclosed number of seats from Friday’s sale to keep them available for the ongoing sale of season tickets.

Herd, who lives in Maryville, Tenn., said that isn’t an option for him: “Being someone that lives three hours away, there is no way I’m going to buy a 27-game pack just to attend this game and maybe two-three others.”

The sellout is a boon for those re-selling seats on the secondary ticket market. As of late Friday afternoon, tickets for the home opener started at $108 on re-sale site StubHub, compared with $10 for the same grandstand general-admission seat at Braves list price, and went sharply upward from there. Tickets offered by the Braves on a single-game basis range from $5 to $143, depending upon the day of the week and other factors.

“Pretty frustrating to see tickets on reseller sites for $500 the morning of the release for single-game tickets,” Braves fan Matthew Baxter, who tried unsuccessfully to buy tickets from the team around 10:10 a.m., wrote in an email. “Oh well.”

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