For only the third time since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, they will open a new stadium tonight against the San Diego Padres at the 41,000-seat SunTrust Park located in Cobb County on the Northwest side of downtown.
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (1966-1996)
The Braves played their first game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on April 12, 1966. A sellout crowd saw the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Braves 3-2 in 13 innings. The Braves had threatened to win the game in the 11th inning when they loaded the bases against Pirates’ reliever, Don Schwall but Schwall got the last two batters out on a strikeout and force out at second base to end the threat. Willie Stargell hit a two-run home run in the 13th to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead. The Braves tried to comeback in the bottom half of the inning when Joe Torre hit his second home run of the game to cut the lead to 3-2 with one out but Schwall struck out Denis Menke and Lee Thomas grounded out to hand the Braves a loss in their first home opener in Atlanta. The Braves went on to finish 5th with a record of 85-77.
Turner Field (1997-2016)
After the 1996 Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, Olympic Stadium was converted into the Braves’ new home for the 1997 season. The Braves opened Turner Field on April 4, 1997 with a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs in front of 45,044 fans.
Trailing the Cubs, 4-3 in the eighth inning, Kenny Lofton got on base when his ball was misplayed by Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston which allowed Jeff Blauser to tie the game at 4-4. Two batters later, Chipper Jones hit a two-out single which scored Mike Mordecai to put the Braves in front, 5-4. Mark Wohlers shut down the Cubs in the ninth to give the Braves their first win at Turner Field.
The Braves finished the 1997 season with a 101-61 record for first place in the National League Eastern Division. They lost the National League Championship Series to the Florida Marlins.
Facts about SunTrust Park:
- Highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any other ballpark in Major League Baseball (MLB)
- Expanded protection from foul balls
- New playing surface called “Seahorse Paspalum, Platinum TE which is similar to Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Miami’s Marlins Park.
- Instead of a stand-alone Braves museum, the new park will have a Monument Garden.
- Water feature similar to Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field.
- 5,500 more parking spaces than Turner Field