2017 Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year: SunTrust Park

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

When SunTrust Park opened in April 2017, it was praised as a model for MLB teams as they move forward on new-ballpark plans or renovations to existing facilities. The Atlanta Braves pulled off a project that combines a great ballpark with integrated development and year-round use, making it the choice of Ballpark of the Year from Ballpark Digest, the Internet resource specializing in ballparks and the business of baseball.

"With an absolute commitment to the best fan experience possible, SunTrust Park was the obvious choice for our Ballpark of the Year," said Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard. "You begin with a great design, surround it with great amenities like The Battery and office/hotel space, and then you watch fans come out in droves to a Braves game. SunTrust Park is a great blueprint for any ballpark development coming down the pike in the next decade."

"We are extremely honored to receive this award," said Terry McGuirk, Braves Chairman and CEO. "Our hope with this project was to have something for everyone inside SunTrust Park and to have a place for our fans to go before and after games. An award like this confirms we took the right path."

What makes SunTrust Park a template for future ballparks? Several factors stand out:

  • SunTrust Park is the center of a larger development that includes office space, a hotel and an entertainment district-The Battery. The ballpark is purposely designed to be a year-round economic player in Cobb County, serving as a center of activity even when there are no MLB games on the docket.

  • Community is everything at SunTrust Park, with social spaces available for both small and large groups. The ballpark is designed to appeal to every kind of baseball fan, ranging from hardcore Braves game-day devotees to casual fans wanting to hang out with friends on a sunny day.

  • Southern hospitality is on full display at SunTrust Park, with a robust set of food and beverage offerings, including local specialties and even a microbrewery.

  • A unique design that takes a challenging location and turns it into an intimate, fan-forward ballpark with plenty of unique vantages and viewpoints. The Braves' history, ranging from the team's roots in Boston to Henry Aaron to more recent World Series wins, is highlighted in a unique Monument Garden. And there is truly a space to match the needs of every fan.

"Inspiration from the culture and history of both Atlanta and the Braves organization allowed us to design SunTrust Park to be an icon of southern hospitality," said Earl Santee, Populous Principal in Charge. "From the kid's zone to the clubs and rooftop decks, SunTrust Park is truly a place where people love to be together and a model for future Major League Baseball ballparks."

"What we really loved at SunTrust Park were the small, personal touches in a ballpark seating more than 41,000 fans," Reichard added. "Whether it's the refrigerated drink holders in the Chop House or 300-year-old repurposed timber in the Champions Suites, there is an incredible attention to detail at SunTrust Park. It makes for a great experience, no matter if a fan is there for the first time or the 50th."

SunTrust Park joins a distinguished list of ballparks honored by Ballpark Digest as Ballpark of the Year, including Minnesota's Target Field (2010), Columbia's Spirit Communications Park (2016), St. Paul's CHS Field (2015), El Paso's Southwest University Park (2014), and Arizona's Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (2011).