Justin Green, disgruntled Braves fan, holds the final game ticket from Turner Field at his home on Thursday. Green will be going to the game Sunday with his “Turner Field 2016” hat on in silent protest of the move. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Even with 3 years’ notice SunTrust Park opening fuels varied emotions

A simple alert on Shannon Fain’s phone made him physically ill, he says.

It derailed a meeting in his boss’s office. They both thought the news had to be a joke.

He does not remember much from that day, just rushing to the bathroom because he was so nauseous.

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Fain took the rest of the day off work because he couldn’t focus, scouring the Internet for anything to make sense of what he had just learned:

His Braves were moving to Cobb County.

Fain is one of the many metro Atlantans over the last few years who have mentally filed for divorce from the Braves.

This is the childhood room of Shannon Fain, former Braves fan who has boycotted the team since it announced it was heading to Cobb. It's been mostly untouched since he moved out 22 years ago.
Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Fain

Word of the move sparked outrage on social media. Every step of the controversial process brought national attention, something Cobb is used to. It even spawned apparel bearing an F-bomb along with “Cobb Co.” and the Braves tomahawk.

Saying Fain won’t attend the inaugural game at SunTrust Park is an understatement.

A few weeks after that phone alert when he knew the move was certain, he walked out of his Midtown apartment and handed out all his Braves hats and shirts to homeless folks along Peachtree Street.

The 40-year-old moved to Atlanta mostly to go to Braves games. As a kid, his parents would make the four-hour drive from Clarksville, Tenn., to watch the team play. He remembers waiting more than two hours after the games to get autographs from hometown heroes like Dale Murphy.

Decatur resident Justin Green can relate.

Justin Green, disgruntled Braves fan, shows his "Turner Field 2016" hat at his home Thursday.
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN/AJC

The difference is that Green will be at the game Sunday, donning a silent protest on his head.

He plans to wear his navy blue “Turner Field 2016” hat to show where his heart lies.

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Green, who works with nonprofits at a consulting firm, purchased the hat from a vendor at Turner Field’s last game. He remembers getting misty-eyed at some point during his multiple walks around the downtown Atlanta ballpark.

To him, the hat is one of his last links to the baseball temple where he fell in love with the Braves.

“I’m going to wear it Sunday so everyone knows my feeling: I’d rather be at The Ted,” he said. “Nostalgia is very powerful, and I think that until I’ve had a fantastic experience at SunTrust, I’m going to be salty about Turner Field.”

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He plans on strolling around SunTrust Park on Sunday, but it’ll be different.

“I will be walking around that stadium and finding anything I can to critique,” he said. “I’m disappointed in myself that I could admit that … because I really love the franchise.”

He said a major part of the decision by him and his wife to live in Decatur was being minutes away from Turner Field.

Take a 360-degree look on field at SunTrust Park, during the singing of the first National Anthem.
Video: Ryon Horne/AJC

“I’m a bit of a smug ITPer; I’m very proud to be inside of the Perimeter … I’ve earned this by deciding to live ITP and Cobb County hasn’t really earned that,” he said.

Wendy Markham, however, doesn’t see it that way.

She said the Paces Ferry exit didn’t have a streetlight when she and her husband moved to Smyrna from Midtown in 1994 to start a family.

The couple has had season tickets since 1992. Their pool tickets on Friday are three rows up from the first-base line just across from the dugout.

“Having the Braves come to Smyrna is a dream come true,” she said. The prospect of traffic and taxes are worth the trouble to her.

Photos: Beloved usher Walter Banks welcomes Braves fans to SunTrust

The 52-year-old real estate attorney said she has many fond memories with her family at Turner Field, but she also remembers the “aroma of sewage from sidewalk grates” and feeling unsafe.

She recalled taking three young kids to a game and being approached by a man who suggested it’d be best for her to give him $20 to watch her car. Having three young kids with her, she did.

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“It was not a good area, and for 25 years, it did not get any better … And I will not miss it one bit.”

Now, she and her husband are buying bicycles and plan to avoid traffic by making the 3½ mile ride from front door to field gate.

Green, the Decatur husband, remembers being able to hop to a game whenever he and his wife felt like it.

When asked what she would say to in-town residents losing the stadium, Markham said: “They can go to Falcons games and Hawks games. They have lots of stuff downtown. It’s nice to spread it around a little bit.”

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