Braves making some quick changes at SunTrust Park

Some changes are in the works at SunTrust Park for the Braves’ second season there.

Six rows of seats will be removed from two prime lower-level sections and will be replaced with four-person tables, and the stadium’s largest hospitality club will be expanded by 2,000 square feet, according to Jim Allen, the Braves’ senior vice president of corporate and premium partnerships.

The quick changes reflect a trend in sports venues: increasing demand for premium spaces where season-ticket holders can socialize with other fans or business associates.

Although that trend figured prominently in SunTrust Park’s design, the Braves found in the stadium’s inaugural season last year that they didn’t have enough inventory of seats with tables, and some fans complained that the largest club, the Delta Sky360 Club, was overly crowded.

The Braves will pay the cost of the changes, Allen said. The team declined to disclose the cost. The work is underway.

Sixteen semicircular tables, each with four chairs, will be added. They will replace the top six rows of seats in sections 122 and 130, which are along the first-base and third-base lines, respectively, at both ends of the lower-level suites.

The change will result in a net loss of 56 seats, the Braves said. That will lower the stadium’s capacity from 41,149 to 40,993.

The Delta Sky360 Club – a field-level club open to fans in about 1,800 seats between the dugouts, including those at the new tables – will grow from 18,500 square feet to 20,500. The additional dining space will be gained mostly by eliminating a media interview room.

The original plan when the stadium was built called for the Braves manager and perhaps some players to routinely hold postgame news conferences in that room -- and for fans in the Delta club to be able to watch and listen through a glass wall. But that plan was quickly abandoned last season.

Team officials realized the need for more four-person tables even before the stadium opened – 80 such tables adjacent to the “Infiniti Club” on the stadium’s terrace level sold quickly – but the tight construction schedule didn’t allow design changes at that point.

“The four-top tables we built on the Infiniti Club were actually the first (seating product) to sell out … but unfortunately we weren’t in position to add more then,” Allen said. “This off-season allowed us to be able to add the way we wanted to.”

The new tables are priced at $205 per person per game, including access to the Delta club. That comes to $820 per table for each game, or $68,060 per table for the season, based on 83 home games (including two exhibitions). The tables will require multi-year contracts, Allen said.

The seats removed to make room for the tables had cost $160 per game in season-ticket packages last year.  “A handful” of season-ticket holders had to be relocated to accommodate the change, Allen said, but most of the seats in the affected rows hadn’t been sold as season tickets.

Sales of the four-person tables are underway, with interest primarily from corporate buyers.

“It is more privacy than they would normally have if they had four season tickets in the middle of a section,” Allen said. “Somebody looking to entertain and have a little bit more of an intimate setting, those are the folks that I think this appeals to.”

The expansion of the Delta Sky360 Club is intended to relieve crowdedness there, as well as to add more kitchen space.

“There were definitely times last year, (such as) rain delays, where everybody came inside and it was a little more crowded than we would like it to be,” Allen said.

In addition to removing the press conference room, a hallway will be eliminated in expanding the club space.

The Braves open the regular season at SunTrust Park against Philadelphia on March 29 at 4:10 p.m.

A rendering of the four-person tables that will be added at SunTrust Park.
Caption
A rendering of the four-person tables that will be added at SunTrust Park.

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