Hardball Times review: The Braves' SunTrust Park 'is a gem'


Credit: Mark Bradley

Credit: Mark Bradley

I'm a bit peculiar. I like stuff other people might hate. I can be cool to things the masses apparently love. (Example: I've never watched an episode of "The Walking Dead.") I'm on record as believing SunTrust Park and especially The Battery Atlanta are pretty great, but my finicky nature leaves me wondering if I'm a minority of one.

OK, two.

Woody Studenmund, who reviews new ballparks for The Hardball Times, has reviewed STP and TBA. His headline: "Atlanta's SunTrust Park: The first of a new generation?" His conclusion after attending Opening Night: "I've never seen anything quite like it ... It's a gem!"

Things Studenmund liked: The Monument Garden; the steep slope of the seats, which he likens to Dodger Stadium, and especially The Battery, which prompts him to use the description invoked by Braves president John Hart on Opening Night : "It's a small city!"

Things he didn't: Some of the food, the hot dogs in particular; the Uber line after opening night (everybody hated that; the Braves have since apologized), and especially the design of the concourses, which are surprisingly narrow.

I have to admit that the skinny concourses threw me, too. Were the designers so pressed for space -- as we know, STP and TBA are hemmed in by I-75, the Perimeter, Cobb Parkway and Windy Ridge -- that they couldn't have gone wider? Did the aforementioned steep slope mean that the concourses couldn't have been more expansive? (I'm not an architect. I don't know these things.)

Studenmund ranks SunTrust 14th among big-league ballparks. The Braves will doubtless be disappointed -- "A billion dollars and we can't crack the top 10?" -- though Studenmund's overall impression was clearly positive. He writes: "These (meaning concourses and food) are small problems compared to the compact beauty of the stadium and its exciting approach to combining baseball, business and social activities."

Not to suggest that great minds run alike, but Studenmund's appraisal mirrors mine: I liked the ballpark; I loved The Battery. I also believe "Black Love" by the Afghan Whigs is one of the 10 greatest albums ever.

Further reading: Who likes SunTrust Park? Inciarte. Who doesn't? Teheran, Swanson.

From the AJC's Melissa Ruggieri: Braves' brass discuss SunTrust Park issues at Billy Joel concert.

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