John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, is looking forward to the opening of SunTrust Park. (File photo by Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

LEADOFF: Hart calls SunTrust Park ‘a game changer’ for Braves

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early buzz in Atlanta sports.

Braves president of baseball operations John Hartin an interview on MLB Network this week, suggested SunTrust Park will be a recruiting tool as the team pursues players in the future.

“I think, in looking at it, it’s a game changer for us,” Hart said. “The ballpark is going to be spectacular. I think it’s going to be an attraction. There’s a lot of baseball players that are born and raised in the South that at some point are going to want to come play close to home. And this is going to have everything you want.”

Of course, free-agent players will want top dollar, too, which is where the anticipated revenue boost from the new stadium should come into play.

“The cool piece about it is that we have 90 acres — 15 acres for the ballpark and the other 75 is a mixed-use,” Hart said. “It’s like a little city in there.”

A quick 360 degree view of ongoing construction from inside the Braves new stadium, SunTrust Park in Cobb County, Video by Brant Sanderlin/ AJC

In the interview, Hart also discussed the rampant speculation that the Braves might trade some of their prized prospects this off-season for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (read: Chris Sale).

“We are not close to anything. We, you know, barely have exchanged names,” Hart said. “… At some point, we realize we’re going to have to trade some of these (young) guys. But at this particular time, it’s not like this is our time, that we should come in there and just start unloading the system with the idea that we’re going to get a two- or three-year fix.”

A deal for an elite starter “is going to involve a lot of good young players and, if you will, a pricey deal for a club that is still, I think, taking some steps forward to become a contending club,” he said. “I’m not sure if we’re quite there yet.”

ICYMI: Lots of updates here about the Braves’ new stadium.

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No offense to the signings of R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, but the best Braves news this month is that Walter Banks will make the move to SunTrust Park.

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Steve Belkin, with Hawks mascot Harry the Hawk, was a one time part owner of Atlanta's NBA franchise.
Photo: Johnny Crawford/AJC

Former Hawks part-owner Steve Belkin is in the news in Boston regarding a condo tower he wants to build two blocks from Fenway Park. The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have complained the proposed tower would “significantly transform the iconic views of the city skyline that fans now enjoy.” Here’s the full story.

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