Saturday, May 15, 2010

Turner Field

So I made a short trip home this week to take a breather between my lengthy Midwest leg and my incredibly short Southeast leg, which is encompassing one whole weekend.  I can't go on to my description of Turner Field without thanking my Atlanta hosts, The Banks, and my cousin, Dave Ferguson.

I was in Business Honors at UT with Taylor Banks, and I saw him again at Bailey and Simon's wedding a couple of weeks ago and he graciously offered to let me stay with his parents in Buckhead just north of Atlanta.  His parents, Marvin and Gigi, were AWESOME hosts.  They stayed up late both nights watching basketball and talking sports, making sure I had everything I needed for the next day.  Mrs. Banks even brought me a piece of white chocolate cake from "Piece of Cake," of which I was skeptical at first, but I may now be addicted to it.  It looks like an Italian Cream from the outside, but ends up being pure white chocolate decadence.  Enough about the cake...the Banks were incredibly generous hosts, and I look forward to paying back the entire family soon.

My cousin, Dave, is someone I probably see once every two years but wish I could see more.  He met me outside the Atlanta Aquarium and the World of Coke in Olympic Park, and he drove me around Atlanta to the Vortex where I had an awesome buffalo bleu burger and some epic nacho tots.  He also accompanied me to the game where we had a great time.  Dave, thanks so much for going with me, and I look forward to returning the favor if you ever make it back to Texas.

On to Turner Field -

Location: Turner Field is located just south of downtown, I think, in an OK neighborhood.  Dave and I parked for $10 at a lot about half a mile from the stadium and didn't have too much trouble getting there from Vortex.  It's located right on I-75/I-85 and is pretty close to a MARTA stop, so you can use public transit or a car to get there. It was easy to get to, but the surrounding area could have been better.

Ballpark:  It may be one of the only MLB ballparks that served as part of a summer Olympics. It was originially Olympic Centennial Stadium, and a good portion of the north side of the stadium was removed so it could be converted into Turner Field.  It cost $235mm to build and was built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) with subsidies from NBC and other Olympic Sponsors, then the committee paid for the conversion itself.  It's probably one of the few stadiums which had no public financing, although I'm not sure if any of the original financing from ACOG came from public taxation.

Anyway, it's a pretty ballpark from the inside, and probably provided one of the best behind-the-plate shots I've gotten.  Dave took me up to section 401 and you can see the picture below.  The stadium has a ton of stuff in center field (bar, Taste of the Majors, Braves store, etc.), but besides that it kind of is just a regular ol' stadium.  The concourses actually look older than the rest of the stadium, but I guess that's OK.  I really do miss the white warning track from Fulton County Stadium, though.

Dave and I also went to the Braves Hall of Fame kind of on the third base line, which had some pretty cool history inside.  Who knew Babe Ruth was a Brave in 1935?  They weren't in Atlanta then, of course.  There's also an impeccable string of signs in the outfield that show the consecutive pennants they won from 1991-2005, excluding the 1994 strike-shortened season.  An unbelievable run.  It hurts to see that, especially as an Astros fan.  I remember the 1998 season where we FINALLY got past the Braves, only to lose to a 'roided-up Jim Leyritz and the rest of the San Diego Padres.  I thought when we got the Big Unit, we were going to be unstoppable.  Oh well, there's always 2020.

 Best behind-the-plate shot ever

Outfield shot

Cartoon Network area in center

Scoreboard on Western Night

Gross pennants

Food: Nothing really too far out of the ordinary, although one of the best things about Atlanta is that there were Chick-fil-A stores EVERYWHERE, including Turner Field.  Since I was feeling OK and had some nacho tots and some of my burger from Vortex, I passed on getting anything at the stadium.  The 16 oz. drafts were $6.75 and the dogs were $4.50, for an SCPI of $11.25.  Definitely one of the cheaper combos I've seen yet.

 Unlike MMP, they have a permanent Taste of the Majors stand


Game:  So, this was the fourth time I've seen the Diamondbacks play in my first 16 games.  They were womping the Braves 4-0 until Dave and I left in the 7th, after which they turned it on and won 5-4 in extra innings.  The D-backs really don't want me to attend another game of theirs...they're now 0-4 in games I've attended.

It was a rainy day, so I was kind of scared that another "Cleveland" was gonna happen to me, but the game ended up making it all the way through.  Nate McClouth made a great Web Gem in center field and was undoubtedly the highlight of the game.

Big thanks again to Dave for accompanying me.  I had a great time and look forward to visiting Atlanta again in the future.  I could spend a week there and still have things to do.

The saw pushed down the drill

Chipper Jones' spots in Braves' history. Sure-fire Hall of Famer

Summary:  Good stadium, not great, with moderate food variety and cheap prices.  Chick-fil-A moves them up a notch, but the location kind of takes them back another step.  The scoreboards were good - Dave said when it was built that they had the largest HD screen in the world.  Now you have the screens at UT, Yankee Stadium, and Cowboys Stadium, which might never be topped.  All-in-all a great experience, even though I thought the stadium was a little subpar.

Location: 6.5
Ballpark: 7
Food: 6.5
Game: 7
Overall: 7

Record: 11-4
Giveaways: Still 4

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