Is this thing on?

A play-by-play guy trying to survive in a mid-major world

The new home of the Braves

The Indians fell in extra innings for the first time last night and for the second time in three days failed to reach the .500 mark.  I really believe at some point this team will reach and exceed the .500 mark, but that’s no easy task when facing the Gwinnett pitching staff (#1 in IL with a 2.68 team ERA) and the Pawtucket staff looming (#4 in IL with a 3.31 team ERA).  During the long season you will face many ups and downs, but for the most part this team has been steady.  The Tribe has not lost or won more than 3 in a row.  We’ll take it when you consider Louisville, Columbus, and Toledo has all experienced losing streaks of at least 6 games.  Toledo is currently in a free fall having dropped 10 straight games falling 5.5 games behind first place Columbus.

After spending the past 42 years in Richmond, Virginia, the Triple-A Braves are now calling Lawrenceville, Georgia their home.  The Braves play in brand new Gwinnett Stadium which had their ground breaking ceremony on June 8th of 2008!  I remember last season when we visited Richmond there was talk of the Braves playing the first half of the ’09 season in Richmond OR Turner Field while they awaited completion of their new stadium.  Well, give credit where credit is due…the Braves were able to complete the stadium in 9 months, just 10 days before opening day.

GWN 024.jpgThe seating capacity is 10,427 with 22 luxury suites.  You can see ten of the suites in the above picture.  A feature we are seeing more and more with the new parks is putting the fans as close to the action as possible.  The distance from the front row of their club seating to home plate is just 40 feet. 

GWN 004.jpgThis is a view from the Indians dugout and you can not only see the press box, but the club seats that are closer to home plate than the pitchers mound.  There are 325 club level seats which feature a private lounge under the stadium.  A cool feature of the club seats is the walk from the lounge to your seats. 

GWN 023.jpgWhile fans walk to their seats from the lounge they pass by the Gwinnett batting cages.

GWN 019.jpgEach team has their own batting cage located outside of their clubhouse.  I feel like this stadium has the fewest seats in the league, but a large grassy berm in right field will help with their attendance.  Victory Field is now one of the bigger stadiums in the IL  Like the new park in Columbus there are plenty of lounge areas for fans who are on suite level and the club level.

GWN 030.jpgThis is a view of Niekro’s restaurant.  It is a lounge area named after Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro and is for the fans who are not sitting in club level or suite level.  I was told to try the “Knucksie”.  I’m not sure exactly what was on it, but it was pretty good.  The “Knucksie” consists of honey flavored BBQ pulled pork stacked on a piece of corn bread.  Mixed within the pork were pickles, caramelized onions, and it was topped off with cole slaw.  Seriously, it looked disgusting, but didn’t taste all that bad.  Like my mom used to say…looks bad…taste good.  Anyone who orders a ‘Knucksie” is entered in a drawing to win a ball signed by Phil Niekro. They give away a ball each home game.  I didn’t win.  Here is a view of the Braves team shop (on the right) and Niekro’s.

GWN 031.jpg
One final picture for you of Gwinnett Stadium.  The Indians bullpen is in the foreground.

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I have had a chance to see both the new stadiums in Columbus, Ohio and here in Gwinnett.  They both have features that I really like.  For instance, from overall look and presentation of the two, I like Huntington Park.  I’m someone who likes the downtown skyline and there are some really great seats in Columbus.  One advantage Gwinnett has over Columbus is it is farther along in terms of offering more “exclusive” areas.  I really think Gwinnett has one of, if not the best suite levels in the league.  The new stadiums have created areas that cater to the high dollar fans and this stadium is taking full advantage.  There have been talks about adding a lounge area on suite level and Victory Field.  From what I can see, the areas have been a boost to Columbus and Gwinnett.  I’m a big fan of this place and liked it more yesterday than I did on day one.  So we’ll see if that trend continues, besides it sure beats the heck out of Richmond.

 

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