A little rain didn’t quell Braves fans’ enthusiasm this weekend.

The team hosted its latest Braves Fest fan event Saturday at The Battery Atlanta, this time requiring a free ticket for entry. The team estimated around 90,000 fans held tickets, and despite rainy conditions throughout the morning and afternoon, they flooded Truist Park and the adjacent area to celebrate baseball season nearing its next beginning.

“It’s a continuation of things we’ve seen over the past several years, especially over the past couple,” Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Just when you think the excitement and the demand is as high as you’ve seen it, we’ve eclipsed that. I think Braves Fest this year is an indication of that.”

The Braves offered options for autograph sessions (at $100 per session, with proceeds to benefit the Atlanta Braves Foundation) and Q&As with players, announcers and president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos. In The Battery, kids could take swings in the Play Ball Alley, play MLB The Show with actual Braves players, bowl with Braves players and get pictures taken. Inside Truist Park, the rain might’ve even made it more fun for some – many kids enjoyed sliding in the wet outfield grass (some parents might’ve not been as enthralled).

“It’s pretty amazing just the stuff the Braves have put together for everybody,” said fan Dustin Carey, who brought his son for their first Braves Fest and played catch on the Truist Park field. “Just the experiences they’re offering for free. It’s nice to see how much they care about the community that they’d do all this.”

The Braves had near perfect attendance with their players, who were eager to interact with fans and answer questions.

“The excitement that is out there is certainly felt by our players,” Schiller said. “They’re very aware of it. Having just about all of them show up for these events, I think it really shows what they know about the level of fandom for the organization they play for. Whether you’ve been here for a number of years or this is your first experience, you start to understand the difference in the Braves organization versus others out there.”

One newcomer, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, on the support: “You can feel that energy, even out there. I mean, crazy. I woke up this morning at like 7:30, and there were already people standing out there, like no joke, spending their Saturday in the pouring rain out there just to support us. You know if they’re going to be here in January, they’re going to be here in October, too.”

A highlight of Anthopoulos’ Q&A: Fan Blake Newsom held up an “Extend Max (Fried)” sign, complete with a dollar sign and “ace (No.) 54!!.” Anthopoulos acknowledged it and applauded the creativity. The sign, of course, is referencing Fried’s impending free agency after the season.

“I made the sign to make sure word gets out that we want Max here,” Newsom told the AJC. “We don’t want this to be the same situation as Freddie (Freeman) and Dansby (Swanson). Everybody wants to see our ace here long term.” Fried likewise acknowledged the sign later. It was an example of the executive-fan, player-fan dynamic displayed throughout the day.

The Braves opted to make their fan fest a sign-up-in-advance event for the first time so they’d have an idea of how many fans they’d be hosting and how they could best manage them. It also helped because they had to relay on-the-fly changes because of the weather.

They also adjusted their Friday night gala to provide attendees with a higher-end experience and more opportunities to interact directly with players. Prices for a general admission ticket to the gala leaped from $250 in 2023 to $750 this year to create a more exclusive event. The proceeds go to the Braves Foundation. The gala had roughly 500 attendees.

“It gives the people who want to go to a higher-end affair a chance to contribute to the Braves Foundation and interact with our players in a little bit more social and private setting,” Schiller said. “It was a really good event. We were blessed with not having rain so we were able to do some things out on the field, in our dugouts, clubhouse, Truist Club.”

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The Braves report to spring training next month in North Port, Florida, and play their Grapefruit League opener Feb. 24. They open the regular season March 28 in Philadelphia seeking their seventh consecutive National League East title.

The home opener is April 5 against the Diamondbacks. After ranking fifth in attendance last season, the Braves should continue filling their ballpark in 2024. Their season tickets, premium seating and suites are sold out.

“The business of this organization is doing really well, and what that means is that the team is doing really well,” Schiller said. “Obviously the first and foremost goal is to try to win as many games as possible and get ourselves into the postseason and win a World Series. I think the team we have this year, we have every indication that we’re in the best possible situation to do just that.”

-Staff writer Lawrence Price III contributed to this article.

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