SunTrust Park opened with a bang.
There were 41,149 raucous fans packed into the Atlanta Braves new stadium in Cobb County. The Braves beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 in their home opener for their second straight win.
With two test events in the books, the Braves felt ready for Friday's game and the entire seven-game homestand.
Obviously, a new stadium presents unexpected issues, and trying to fix them as quickly as possible can be difficult. A lot of the issues that occurred at the first event on March 31 were fixed, but there were still a couple of rocky moments on Friday.
Here's what improved, and here are a few suggestions for what will help the Braves make SunTrust Park perfect.
Fixed: The video feeds going to areas like the press box and other areas of the stadium seemed to work flawlessly. During the exhibition game, the screens were all scrambled and the feeds were un-watchable. There was also an issue with the main video board in the outfield going out and needing a reset. The video board seemed to work, and video feeds were seamless.
Needs improvement: The stadium audio was spotty, especially when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made a brief speech marking the opening of the league's newest stadium. Unfortunately, only every other word could be heard. There were slight audio issues during the national anthem, as well. However, those did not persist throughout the game.
Fixed: The tarp that blocked an entire row of seats was fixed and the fans could see. The Braves President of Business Derek Schiller said Thursday that the tarp was lowered so it would not block fans' view, and it was folded correctly, unlike during the exhibition game.
Needs improvement: While it should be noted that it was a sold-out game, and most fans likely waited until after the pre-game ceremonies to get food, the walkways on all levels were extremely congested during the game and made it incredibly hard to move. This was undoubtedly because of food lines that extended into the walkways, unlike at Turner Field were the lines were pushed outward and ropes guided fans into a line that did not extend into the walkways. An easy fix would be to put more rope lines in and organize them in a way that does not extend into walkways. It's also worth noting credit card machines went out around much of the stadium, causing delays for most of the game.
Fixed: All employees were incredibly helpful. The March 31 exhibition game was the first time much of the staff had ever been inside the stadium and were forced to learn on the fly. This meant elevator operators did not know which levels to take fans based on their tickets and employees had trouble giving directions. However, all staff was knowledgeable at SunTrust Park and has always been friendly.
Needs improvement: Enforcement on smoking inside the stadium is lax. An area just outside the press box on the upper level became a popular spot for smokers to congregate and sneak a cigarette. Some knew they were not supposed to smoke inside the stadium, some did not. But one smoker told 11Alive he didn't want to go outside the stadium to the crowded area by the third base gate to smoke and said he knew he could get away with it. He missed the yellow boxes that marked designated areas for smoking at Turner Field. Several workers and police officers confronted smokers and told them to put it out. But on multiple occasions they walked away and the crowds would begin smoking again. This occurred throughout the game. There needs to be either stricter enforcement or more designated areas of smoking.
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