Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mike's Review: Turner Field

It took an extra day to see a game at Turner Field, but we didn't mind spending extra time in the stadium, or an extra night experiencing all Atlanta has to offer. Atlanta is a driving city, with three "downtown" areas, but after a few days and about 150 U-Turns, I think we started figuring it out...

The Ballpark
It's hard to tell Turner Field was built as an Olympic stadium for the 1996 summer games. It was transformed into a modern baseball field, with all the amenities, including open concourses and batting cages. There is a large open bar in right center field, which is a great place to watch the game (or spend a rain delay, and watch the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals). Before some games there are musicians and activities in the plaza behind the scoreboard, which was actually very entertaining. The most distinguishing feature of Turner Field is an upperdeck standing room only section that has a fantastic view of the field, a Coke Bottle made up of Braves uniforms and other appropriate artifacts, and a giant creepy Chik-fil-a cow. It also has a home plate and a first base 90 feet away where kids can time themselves running the bases. Beyond that, the stadium is very generic in both the appearance and in the food options. It had basic ballpark food, and really nothing else. They had a Tomahawk Amber Lager, but a better Atlanta Beer would have been something from the SweetWater Brewing Company. Local Beer Highlight: SweetWater 420 IPA and SweetWater Road Trip Pilsner. We had a great time in what was really a nice ballpark with everything a ballpark needs, but there wasn't much that made Turner Field stand out over other modern stadiums like it.
3 / 5

The Game and Fans
It's always hard to watch the home team get shut out, but we did see brilliant pitching from Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo. There were over 22 thousand fans in the stands, but it's hard to see the full effect of the Tomahawk Chop in a stadium that holds 50 thousand. Even though the biggest offensive threat the Braves mounted was back-to-back walks, they respond instantly to the Chop with a lot of energy. I'd love to be there when the Braves are back in contention - the idea of a whole stadium doing something unique in unison is pretty awesome.
3 / 5

The area around Turner Field is half parking lot and half trees and suburbs. The parking lot is where the old stadium used to stand, and there's a marker where Hank Aaron's 715th home run landed against the back wall of the lot. The trees and suburbs side is right next to the third base side of the field, and the outdoor upper concourse is given a nice quiet atmosphere. Still, there's nothing to do right around the park, and not much room for future development either.
1.5 / 5

Atlanta is a fun city. Tourists get the CNN Center, the World of Coca-Cola, and the Georgia Aquarium. Locals also get the Georgia Aquarium, as well as a lot of unique stores and restaurants all over the sprawling city. With the rain delay we had an extra night to explore the night life, which did not disappoint three nights in a row. I would love to come back to Atlanta any time, despite the lack of good public transportation.
4 / 5

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