Tech, UGA explored playing in first-ever game at SunTrust Park

Georgia and Georgia Tech’s baseball teams were gauged on their interest in playing the first-ever game at the new SunTrust Park next spring, but logistics will prevent it from happening.

The two rivals have played an annual game at Turner Field to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta since 2003, with Tuesday night’s game the finale at the stadium. Shelton Stevens, executive director for the hospital’s sports network, reached out to Tech coach Danny Hall and Georgia coach Scott Stricklin about the possibility of playing opening the stadium with a weekend game before the start of the major-league season. Both were interested, but deemed it unfeasible.

“They said scheduling would be a problem,” Stevens said. “With that, right now, all we can say is that we’re looking forward to having the regular Tech-Georgia game, the Kauffman Tire Spring Classic, just in late April or May just like we always have.”

Both teams’ conference schedules will have started by that point, with series typically running Friday night through Sunday. That would not leave much availability, if any, to fit in a non-conference game. Stricklin said it was proposed that Tech and Georgia’s weekend series could be moved up a day and played Thursday through Saturday, leaving Sunday to play each other at the new stadium. That would require the teams to play four games in four days, which would be a considerable demand.

“It would have been something to say we played the first game in that park,” Hall said.

The game would have stood to be a unique event in the series’ history and potentially a major fundraiser for the hospital. In 2004, San Diego State played the first-ever game in Petco Park and drew 40,106, the largest crowd in college baseball history and about double what the Tech-Georgia game at Turner Field has usually drawn.

“We’re always looking for things like that,” Stevens said.