Saturday, June 6, 2009

Justin's Review: Turner Field

Ballpark Design:  We spent quite a deal of time at Turner Field, waiting through a three hour rain delay on Thursday before the game was called off, and then coming back for an actual game on Friday.  I'm glad we got to spend so much time there, because the ballpark definitely grew on me the longer I was there.  My initial impression wasn't great - while Turner Field has many of the "fan improvement" features that most new ballparks do (such as some open concourses, multiple different places to watch the game, etc), it lacks any truly unique defining features.  The field itself is almost symmetrical (like many of the old multi-purpose stadiums), and there is little in the actual structure of the stadium that is remarkable.  That being said, during our many hours of exploring the park, we found some pretty cool, less obvious features of the ballpark.  One of my favorite areas was the Coca-Cola Porch, an area of the upper deck high above left field that offers impressive standing room only views of the field on one side, and a gorgeous view of downtown Atlanta on the other side.  The area also had a mini (though incomplete) baseball diamond for kids to run around on.  Speaking of kids, the ballpark was clearly designed with their entertainment in mind - the outfield concourse had an enormous play area for kids, and a bunch of baseball related activities for kids and adults alike - a batting cage, and pitch speed game, etc.  Finally, about an hour into the rain delay on Thursday, Mike and I headed up to the bar overlooking center field.  It was raining, so everybody was crowded under the relatively small overhang, but it had a great atmosphere and clearly would have had some great views of the game.  Despite these positive features, the generic feeling of the rest of the park, combined with problems such as ugly concourses, kept me from truly liking the park. B-

Scoreboard/Soundtrack: The impressively large video board in center field did a great job giving all the information you could need about the game.  One feature I particularly liked, which I haven't really seen anywhere else, is that scoreboard kept track of what each previous batter in the inning had done, keeping you informed if you ever miss a play.  Also, props to the Braves for playing out of town games on the video screen during the rain delay, rather than showing, oh, Brave-ography, or whatever it would be called there.  The out of town scoreboard was acceptable (it was particularly nice that they had it in two places), and pitch speed, pitch count, and all that were in clearly visible places.  As for the the Nationals, they had a lot of very weird sound effects that didn't really make sense.  And then there's the Tomahawk Chop music, possibly the single most irritating thing any team has ever come up with.  Don't get me started.  B

Food/Drink:  Not a lot great to report here.  There was a BBQ stand and a nice place with burgers, different types of hot dogs, etc, in center field, but other than that, it was just typical stadium food at all the other stands.  The beer selection was pretty limited as well, except in the center field bar. C-

Fans:  Another sparsely attended game, with an attendance just over 22,000.  The fans who were there were more or less into it, although there wasn't a lot to cheer for.  The upper deck kept getting a bit distracted by trying to do the wave.  One thing the fans were great at was doing the Tomohawk Chop in unison.  Creepy.  C+

City/Stadium Neighborhood:  While we had a good time at the game, the highlight of our stay definitely was our time exploring Atlanta.  We did all the touristy things in downtown - went to the Aquarium (great), the World of Coke (eh), and the CNN Center Tour (very interesting).  We also had a great time going out at night with our friend Zach and his friends - Atlanta seems to have a great nightlife.  While Atlanta was a very fun city, I still did have some problems with it - everything is so spread out, and there's no great public transportation, so you have to rely on driving to get everywhere.  This also has an impact on downtown Atlanta - there are garages everywhere, in a way that you don't see in Northeast cities, at least.  It definitely takes a bit away from the urban feel of the city.  All that being said, I liked it significantly more than I thought I would - not a place I could ever live, but definitely a place I'd love to visit again.  The stadium neighborhood was more or less non-existent - you basically have to drive to the stadium, and there was little of interest around it.  City: B; Neighborhood: D

Game:  Yovani Gallardo was masterful, shutting down the Braves and leading the Brewers to a 4-0 win, despite not having his best stuff.  The Braves could manage only two hits, and never threatened.  The Brewers offense wasn't great either, but they managed 4 runs, 2 of which were thanks to some fielding difficulties by Yunel Escobar.  Not a particularly exciting game, but watching Gallardo pitch so well was a treat. B

Overall Experience: Despite the seemingly low grades I gave to much of Turner Field, we actually had a great time there.  The ballpark wasn't amazing, but didn't detract from the experience at all, and Atlanta was a fun city.  I'd definitely go back for a game anytime. B+

1 comment:

  1. The Baltimore Ravens' first down sound is definitely the most annoying effect any team has ever come up with!