Home Base: Turner Field

It is only fitting for me to start my blog with a tribute to my hometown team, the Atlanta Braves.

Being from Atlanta, Georgia, Turner Field has a special place in my heart. It was the first major league park I ever went to, is home to my beloved Atlanta Braves, and the site of the first Opening Day and postseason games I attended. My junior prom was even hosted at the 755 Club in the park.

Over the years, I have seen dozens of Braves games at “The Ted,” as the park is affectionately known as. I was at Chipper Jones’s last game, and at Jason Heyward’s first game. So many of my childhood memories are ingrained into that stadium in Fulton County. A little bit of history on the stadium: it was built for use in the 1996 Olympic Games, which were hosted in Atlanta. Prior to playing at Turner Field, the Braves jointly occupied Fulton-County Stadium with the Falcons, Atlanta’s NFL franchise. Turner Field was built in the parking lot of Fulton-County Stadium and hosted its first season of Braves baseball in 1997. One of the only remaining reminders of the old Fulton-County Stadium is the outfield wall, which marks where Hank Aaron, Major League Baseball’s former home run king, hit home run number 715 to pass then-king Babe Ruth. Enough history though, let’s get on to some of the unique aspects of the current stadium.

One of the best features of the stadium is a giant Coca-Cola bottle that sits perched above the stadium in the upper deck in left center field. A symbol of one of the city’s greatest icons, the larger-than-life bottle is made entirely of baseballs, gloves, bats and other relics of the game. The bottle shoots fireworks out of the cap after wins, home runs or big plays made by the home team Braves. It’s quite a site on a summer night to see the red, white, and blue fireworks emerge to roars of the crowd after a big-time hit.

Another thing that makes this stadium uniquely Atlanta’s stadium is, of course, the presence of Chick-fil-A. What Atlantan wouldn’t enjoy a chicken sandwich, ice cold Coke and Braves baseball? Note: even the Chick-fil-A’s in the stadium are closed on Sundays.

As for the stadium as a whole, it is quite vast. The park seats over 45,000, which makes it one of the largest parks in the nation for baseball. Rarely does the place fill up, but you can count on it being loud come August and September if the Braves are in the middle of a National League East pennant race.

Some other cannot-miss aspects of the park include the Braves museum in the left-center field plaza. You can get a ticket at the door, but it houses some really neat artifacts from the team’s early days in Boston and more recent days in Atlanta. As the longest continuously running baseball franchise in professional baseball, the museum has relics from some of the game’s best players including Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, and my childhood heroes like John Smoltz and Chipper Jones.

Don’t forget to hit up the Chop House if you are in the mood for something to eat or drink. Located right above the action in right center field, the two-story restaurant offers views of the field and has some pretty tasty wings, as well. It opens when the park does, so if you get there early it is a great spot to have a cold drink and catch batting practice, but be warned, it does get very crowded so get there early.

One of the things that I absolutely love about Turner Field is the pre-game atmosphere in the parking lots. The Ted is one of the few parks in Major League Baseball that provides green space to tailgate in and set up cornhole and other fun pre-game activities. In the summer, you’ll find thousands of fans outside soaking up the sun and having a good time. If you have the time, make sure to check it out.

While Atlanta may not have the flashiest park in the majors, there are some unique qualities that make Turner Field home to me. If you have the chance make sure to check out The Ted.