Braves begin Cobb stadium season ticket sales

The Atlanta Braves unveiled a snazzy sales center overlooking the team’s future ballpark Wednesday, along with price ranges for season tickets once play begins at SunTrust Park.

The take away for fans: There will be plenty of affordable seats in the new ballpark, but the average price is going up and the best seats in the house will feature more amenities at higher prices — up to $475 per game.

It’s the reality of modern stadiums — seat prices increase with fancy clubs, better food and higher construction costs.

The full array of seat prices wasn’t made available.

But the Braves said non-premium season tickets will range from $6 to $90 per ticket, and premium seating will cost $85 to $475 apiece. At Turner Field, non-premium seats range from $5 to $78 per game for season ticket buyers, and premium seats fetch $100 to $375.

Premium seats – generally those with club access or other amenities between the dugouts in lower bowls of the ballpark – require multi-year commitments. But the Braves are not requiring the purchase of Personal Seat Licenses like the Falcons are at their new downtown stadium.

However, fans will be asked to pay a 10 percent deposit to secure season tickets for the 2017 season.

The $672 million SunTrust Park will feature ultra-fast internet, four premium club areas, new food and beverage options, and better views of the action from more comfortable seating. That makes comparing ticket prices to Turner Field difficult, said Derek Schiller, the Braves’ executive vice president of sales and marketing.

“A lot of the seats we will be offering at SunTrust Park do not exist in any way, shape or form at Turner Field,” Schiller said during an opening tour of the sales center. “It’s really important that we showcase the level of amenities, experiences and things that are included in seats (to fans).”

To that end, the Braves are inviting season ticket holders into the sales center by appointment only, to discuss seat prices and the amenities that go with them. Fans also can pay a refundable $100 deposit to receive an invitation.

Robert Boland, a professor of sports management at New York University, said kicking off sales with the most loyal fans is a go-to move for teams with new stadiums. Boland said the number of season tickets sold will impact prices for individual games.

“They want season ticket holders to be wowed and want to be a part of the experience,” Boland said. “The goal is to keep (current) season ticket holders, maybe move them up to the next level (of seating), and get some new people.

“How they sell in the first year to core constituency will be a key determinant of (pricing for) single game sales.”

Greg Shenton, a Smyrna season-ticket holder, fits nicely into the Braves plan. Shenton has held six tickets in the outfield pavilion at Turner Field since 2002. He said Wednesday that he would like to keep comparable seats in the new stadium, and maybe add two more in a premium area.

“I”m thrilled about the new stadium,” Shenton said. “For me, I don’t have to drive downtown anymore. This new area with the retail and the offices, it’s going to be a neighborhood where I can take my son and not constantly look over my shoulder.”

Comparing seat prices overall is an opaque process.

Turner Field features the third-cheapest price among Major League Baseball teams for non-premium season tickets at $19.14 per game, according to Team Marketing Report of Chicago, which uses data from all 30 MLB teams. The league average is about $29.

The Braves, however, say their average non-premium price is actually higher — $26.48. The Team Marketing Report survey excludes seats near the field and in other prime areas that wouldn’t be considered premium in a modern stadium. That effectively depresses Turner Field’s average.

The average non-premium seat cost at the new Cobb County ballpark is expected to be $27.73, according to a Braves spokeswoman. That would be a 45 percent increase over the Team Marketing Report average for Turner Field, but only a 4.7 percent increase over what the Braves consider their average price.

According to the Braves, about 19,000 seats will be priced under $20 per ticket; more than 7,000 seats will be less than $10 per game; and about 6,000 seats, starting at $40 apiece, will have “added value” of food, beverage and special access built in.

All of those prices are for season ticket sales. Single game prices will be announced later.

Some of the expected increase in average ticket prices is because of the larger number of premium seats, which will increase from about 400 at Turner Field to about 4,000 in the new stadium. SunTrust Park also will have fewer seats overall — about 41,000 compared to Turner Field’s 50,000.

The sales center has seven different conference rooms that feature touchscreen television monitors that display a slick series of flybys of the new stadium and neighboring entertainment district, along with animated views from various ballpark seats.

The wall of monitors can also handle the ticket transaction.

Schiller said the team is “very confident” that SunTrust Park will offer seats for a range of fans, from families who want an inexpensive option on a Friday night to major companies “looking to entertain corporate clients.”

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