A view of Braves stadium construction on Nov. 10, 2015.
Photo: BRANT SANDERLIN
Photo: BRANT SANDERLIN

SunTrust Park construction on schedule

The ballpark is starting to look like a ballpark.

And now work has begun in earnest on The Battery, the $450 million mixed-use development the Atlanta Braves are building next to SunTrust Park.

Two years to the day after the Braves announced their plan to build a new baseball stadium in Cobb County, nearly all of the concrete and steel work has been completed; risers in the lower seating bowl are clearly visible; and brick that will be the stadium’s outer “skin” is being attached to walls beyond the outfield.

Construction crews have been working on the plaza area that will transition between the ballpark and the mixed-use development — most of which is expected to be open when the team throws its first pitch in April 2017. And now work has begun on the nine-story Comcast office tower, which will house the company’s innovation lab and about 1,000 workers.

Derek Schiller, the Braves’ executive vice president of sales and marketing, said completing the stadium’s concrete work this month and the steel by February are significant milestones.

“We are moving along very nicely with construction,” Schiller said. “Progress has been as anticipated. We believe we are on schedule.”

Cash has also come in on schedule.

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Braves’ owner Liberty Media closed on a $345 million term loan in September, and team officials also received $103 million from Cobb County bond proceeds as “reimbursement for project costs paid for by (the Braves) prior to funding of the bonds.”

Through Sept. 30, approximately $274 million had been spent on the stadium project, with about $149 million provided by county taxpayers, according to Liberty.

Cobb County Manager David Hankerson said Georgia companies have received $300.6 million in contracts, while Cobb County companies have been awarded $233 million worth of work.

Schiller said the plaza, which sits west of the stadium, acts as an in between area for the stadium and mixed use. Stadium construction crews are building it.

“The plaza has a (two level) parking structure that goes underneath the plaza and they’ve poured the foundation for the parking structure,” Schiller said. The actual plaza level itself, where people will walk from The Battery into the ballpark, begins to be poured in January.”

Work on the Comcast building has necessitated an additional crane on the site. Construction of the 16-story Omni Hotel begins in February — a full-service facility with 260 rooms, rooftop hospitality suites, approximately 12,500 square feet of meeting space, with an elevated pool deck and bar overlooking the plaza and ballpark.

“We’ll begin to see ramping up of significant activity on the entire site” then, Schiller said, adding that the team is making good progress on the 60 retail spaces it plans to lease — 40 shops and 20 restaurants.

“Well before we’re in the final year of Turner Field, we’re already starting to announce much of what’s going on with the (mixed-use) development,” Schiller said. “We feel very confident where things are.”

Currently, there’s about 630 workers on the site tied to the ballpark plus an additional 120 working on the mixed-use development. Each worker is averaging about 55 hours per week.

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