After starting the season with three ugly losses in Philadelphia, the Braves will play their home opener at 7:10 p.m. Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Here’s a primer on opening night at SunTrust Park:
> Tickets: The game is sold out, with Ticketmaster.com showing even the $20 standing-room-only tickets gone as of Sunday night. Of course, as for virtually all pro sports events, plenty of resale tickets are available on the secondary market.
> Pitching matchup: Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb (12-9, 3.90 last season) vs. Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (14-11, 3.44 last season). The Cubs last week signed Hendricks to a four-year, $55.5 million contract extension.
> Earlier starting time: The Braves generally will start home games 15 minutes earlier this season than in SunTrust Park’s first two seasons — night games at 7:20 p.m. and Sunday afternoon games at 1:20 p.m. But the home opener will start even earlier than other night games — 7:10 p.m. — at the request of ESPN, which will televise the game outside the Atlanta market. The game will be on Fox Sports South in Atlanta. In general, the Braves said they moved up the start times on weeknight games this season after becoming comfortable with the traffic flow around the stadium.
> Pregame ceremonies: The Braves encourage fans to be in their seats 30 minutes before Monday’s game for festivities that are scheduled to include an unveiling of the 2018 NL East pennant, a ceremonial first pitch by recently inducted Braves Hall of Fame member Terry Pendleton, a fly-over by the U.S. Air Force and a “Play Ball” command by former Braves manager Bobby Cox. Stadium gates will open at 4:30 p.m.
> Parking: The Braves said early Monday that “limited” parking remains available for the home opener. “Fans need to either prepay for the remaining spots by visiting www.braves.com/parking or take Uber to the ballpark,” the team advised.
> At the concession stands: SunTrust Park food and beverage partner Delaware North will have some new (extreme) items on the menus, including the Blooper Burger, which Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller described as “everything you can find in a ballpark crammed onto a bun.” That includes four cheeseburger patties, a foot-long hot dog and chicken tenders. SunTrust Park hasn’t adopted the model pioneered by Mercedes-Benz Stadium of slashing the prices on some concession items. On the other hand, SunTrust Park doesn’t have PSLs (personal seat licenses). “We believe we have a very family-friendly value-based offering when you include all the things that it takes to come to an Atlanta Braves game,” Schiller said. “That has been our focus and will remain our focus for the foreseeable future. … It would be important for fans to look at the entire offering.” Fans can bring their own food (inside a clear gallon-sized plastic bag) and a sealed plastic bottle of water into the stadium.
> New at The Battery: Several new establishments have opened since the end of last season in The Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development adjacent to the ballpark, including outdoor gear and clothing retailer Rock/Creek and record store Waterloo Sunset. Adventure venue The Escape Game is scheduled to open later this week. H&F Burger has moved from inside the stadium to a new location just off the plaza, accessible from both The Battery and the ballpark.
> It’s still SunTrust Park: A big change looms for the stadium — a new name — but it won’t happen this season. “We have been told by SunTrust that there is not going to be a name change during the course of this season,” Schiller said. “The announcement of when they would change the name has not been revealed to us, other than we know for the 2019 season it will remain SunTrust Park.” SunTrust’s pending merger with BB&T will result in a new and not-yet-determined name for the combined banks, the companies have said. That eventually will lead to a new name for the Braves stadium, although the 25-year naming-rights contract will remain in force. The contract “contemplates there can be changes during the course of a long agreement to the name SunTrust,” Schiller said.
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