Today is the three-year anniversary of Truist Park being the home of the Atlanta Braves. Despite the terrible new name, it's still a beautiful park and deserves a few minutes of recognition.
The Braves moved into Truist Park, known at the time as SunTrust Park, in 2017. The plan was to build a contending team by the time they moved into the new stadium, but as the Braves finished 2017 with a record of 72-90 and in third place in the division, that clearly didn't happen.
The new ballpark replaced Turner Field as the home of Atlanta's team. While I didn't love Turner Field, it had some charm to it. It was the Braves' home stadium during some of their most dominant years in the late 90s and early 2000s. It hosted 11 divisional series, four league championship series and one World Series. It also hosted one Wild Card game, but Braves fans try to forget that one.
Turner Field was right in the middle of Atlanta, close to downtown and right next to the location of the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. It was a good spot for a ballpark, but it wouldn't last.
The Braves played their final season at Turner Field in 2016, and in a move that was highly controversial, they moved out to their new home in Cobb County.
I wasn't a fan of the first renderings that were provided of Truist Park. The outer features of the ballpark looked too empty and ugly, not like the brick that we're used to seeing at baseball stadiums. But when the stadium was finished, it was beautiful. Truist Park fits into the retro-modern category of baseball stadiums, with retro-looking facade on the outside and modern amenities on the inside.
It's a beautifully-designed stadium with plenty of features such as the Coors Light Chop House, the Coca-Cola Corner and the Heavy Hitters drumline that make it feel like home for Braves fans.
The first game that I went to at Truist Park was right after the All-Star game in 2017. The Braves were hosting their first homestand since the All-Star break and were facing the Chicago Cubs. My friend and I drove down to go to one of the games, and although the Braves lost, it was a great experience.
One of the advantages that Truist Park has over Turner Field is the mixed-use development built around the stadium. The Battery Atlanta describes itself as a "365-day entertainment experience." The area features everything from retail to bars and restaurants to apartments and hotels. Fans can spend their entire day in the development and never run out of entertainment options. It makes for a great way to get fans in, while increasing the excitement of the pre-game atmosphere.
While it does have its shortcomings, such as the aforementioned controversy and the failure to name the stadium after Hank Aaron, Truist Park is a great place to watch a game.
I might have to do a blog post soon about the time I went to the 2018 NLDS in Atlanta, but that's a wild story that features skipping class, speeding tickets and flat tires. We'll save that one for another time.
For now, let's just take a minute and imagine what it would be like to be back at Truist Park right now, watching a Braves win in a pandemic-free world.