Live from SunTrust Park: Braves fans embrace new home

Credit: Jennifer Brett

Credit: Jennifer Brett

Stan Hauseman is a longtime Atlanta Braves fan. He's a new Braves season ticket holder.

The Marietta resident sealed the deal when the team came his way.

"We haven't missed an opening day in 10 years," he said during a quick pregame interview at his tailgating headquarters, set up in prime real estate just outside the park. "I became a season ticket holder when the park moved here."

Three years after the stunning announcement that the Braves would move to Cobb County, opening day is here.

MORE: SunTrust Park: Metro Atlanta's latest landmark moment

Here's what longtime Braves closer John Smoltz thinks of the new location:

"It'll be interesting to see how it all works out," said Ali Gross, who Ubered from Midtown to SunTrust Park, at 75 and 285. "The park is great."

She's also enticed by the surrounding restaurants, shops and concert venue at the adjacent Battery.

"It'll be fun to come here and stay the whole day," she said.

MORE: Where to eat, drink at The Battery

Of course, things weren't perfect. One escalator leading to the stadium's top level was inoperable, forcing fans to trudge up the steps:

Longtime Braves fan Mike Levin of North Fulton had a tricky time getting settled.

"Parking across from park was challenging," he said. "One cop would not let us turn left into our lot and told me to go to the next entrance."

The officer at that entrance, he said, "told me to turn around and then yelled at us for blocking traffic."
Once inside the park, he found the security screening process onerous and concessions lines long.
"Many poorly designed areas," he lamented.

Other fans found getting to SunTrust Park fairly easy.

Traffic - always top of mind to metro Atlanta commuters and never more so than now in the wake of the I-85 bridge collapse - was moving OK a few hours before game time. A steady stream of pedestrians marched across bridges constructed for their use, and anecdotal evidence suggested many fans got here super early, carpooled or used a car-hailing service.

Jeff McKay left his home in Chamblee about 1:15 p.m., plenty of time to claim a sweet tailgating spot hours in advance.

Alli Maykunza, on the other hand, lives nearby in Smyna and got here in a snap.

"We are pumped!" she said of the team's new location.

Brian Cunha of Brookhaven didn't have problems on Friday but remained cautiously optimistic for future games.

"It was easy today but it's the first day," he said. "So who knows."

Here's a look at some of the pregame fan festivities so far:

Credit: Jennifer Brett

Credit: Jennifer Brett