Sports

Atlanta Braves Prepare For Second Opening Day At SunTrust Park

The Braves start their season with a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. 
The Braves start their season with a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. 
Credit Robb Cohen / Invision/AP

Thursday is Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves and the rest of Major League Baseball. It’s the first time since 1968 that all the League’s teams are playing on the same Opening Day and the earliest one ever.

The Braves start their season with a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Last year was a rough one in their inaugural season at SunTrust Park.

They won 72 games and failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year. In the off-season, the MLB banned the Braves former general manager, John Coppolella, for life after they found the team illegally signed international players.

I.J. Rosenberg, an Atlanta sports analyst, said the team has a lot to prove to its fans.

“You can’t just say that’s in our rearview mirror because that’s going to have an effect,” Rosenberg said. “At the same time though, they’ve got to win games. Winning cures a lot of ailments.”

Rosenberg said fans do have a reason to be somewhat hopeful. He said there are still some exciting players, mainly Ronald Acuna, who could make their big league debut this year.

SunTrust Park also opens up again with one year already under its belt.

Greg Mize, who’s with the team, said they expect a standing room only crowd at the first game of the season but that shouldn’t have an effect on commuters.

“A lot of folks, for them, Opening Day is a national holiday,” Mize said. “So I think because of that you’ll see a staggered arrival of people getting here. We’re not expecting for folks who are in the area, not coming to the game to be impacted at 4’o’clock.”

Mize said they have also added more ride hailing service pickup locations to help with crowd control. Cobb County police said they also adjusted their traffic plan and don’t expect any major tie-ups as fans leave the game.

Last year’s Opening Day in the new ballpark drew criticism from fans about long concession stand lines, which clogged up concourses.

Mize said they worked with engineering students at Georgia Tech to figure out ways to alieve the congestion and added more concession purchase points.