Six things we learned in Atlanta sports business this week:
1. Fans will get expanded protection from line-drive foul balls at the Braves’ new stadium. Protective netting will extend from behind home plate to the far end of both dugouts at SunTrust Park, Braves president of business Derek Schiller said. The netting will stop at the camera wells adjacent to the end of the dugouts. From directly behind the plate, the screen will extend 145 feet down the third-base line and 149 feet down the first-base line, according to Braves field director Ed Mangan. The expanded netting comes amid increased attention over injuries to fans at MLB games and as new stadiums, such as SunTrust Park, place seats even closer to the action. Full story here.
2. Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast have reached a multi-year deal to televise Atlanta United matches. The networks will air 19 of the team’s matches this season — all that aren’t nationally televised. Atlanta United president Darren Eales said the networks’ “regional reach” and “production quality” appealed to the team.Full story here.
3. If you want a last look inside the soon-to-be-demolished Georgia Dome, you’ll have to get it this weekend or next. The two weekends will feature the final public events in the 25-year-old stadium: Arenacross and Supercross motorcyle racing this weekend; Monster Jam trucks shows next weekend. Then the Dome will be emptied and readied for implosion. Full story here.
4. Developers unveiled plans for a $200 million sports complex, Atlanta Sports City, that they say will eventually include a 15,000-seat stadium, 22 soccer and football fields, seven baseball diamonds and five basketball courts. Construction on the 200-acre complex, located in the new city of Stonecrest in southeast DeKalb County, is slated to begin this fall. Men’s and women’s pro soccer teams are expected to be announced soon for the facility, which plans to attract regional youth tournaments. Full story here.
5. Cobb County issued a certificate of occupancy for SunTrust Park to the Braves on Friday, more than a month ahead of the first game there. “After hundreds of inspections throughout 30 months, the stadium has fulfilled and passed all required inspections by Cobb County Building Department and the Cobb County Fire Marshal’s Office,” according to an announcement by the county government. The Braves said they “are excited to reach this key milestone at SunTrust Park.”Full story here.
6. Ann Rodriguez, vice president of business operations for Atlanta United, was named to SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40” class of 2017. The annual list recognizes 40 sports executives for “excellence and innovation” in their careers before the age of 40. Rodriguez oversees Atlanta United’s day-to-day business operations, including sales, marketing, sponsorships, ticket operations and fan experience.