New stadium smell wearing off quickly for Braves

Not a scene that plays well at SunTrust Park – the other team whooping it up inside the Braves’ new playground. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

After two homestands, the Braves find themselves lagging in two important categories – victories and home attendance. There just may be a connection.

Anyway, entering Tuesday’s game at Houston tied with Kansas City and San Francisco with the fewest victories in the majors (11), the Braves slow start has been something of a jolt. A reality check. A vivid reminder of the fact that you can’t see the future when it’s Bartolo Colon who is blocking the view.

But more than that, think how disappointed they must be in San Francisco and Kansas City – two cities where they have come to expect better lately. Sure do feel sorry for them.

It’s the attendance thing that has been even more jarring than the losing. After a couple initial sellouts, the Braves have settled into 12th in major league attendance. They were averaging a bit more than 30,000 (tickets sold), a good number considering that the team hasn’t averaged that high for a season since 2013. But not exactly the eye-popping boost you’d expect from the lure of a new ballpark.

The customer fall-off has been noticeable after those opening games. And for all of SunTrust Park’s wonders, empty seats there really don’t appear any more majestic than empty seats at Turner Field.

We’ll see how business picks up in the summer, when school is out and the curious from around the south make their pilgrimage to the new park. But it’s summer everywhere. And if the Braves, such a powerful regional brand, don’t climb up the attendance chart in the heat of the season, there will be some ‘splainin’ to do.

The newness of SunTrust Park is such a fleeting trait. And it is all the more ephemeral when the product on the field does not match the new décor. You put a lumpy, beat-up couch in a new home, no one is going to want to sit in it no matter how nice the crown molding is.

Actually, you may choose to see the attendance lag as something quite positive. I do.

The numbers, if they hold and the Braves continue to under-perform, would be something of a compliment to their fan base.

It would be an indication that we are not so readily blinded by the new setting, that the paying customer is a little more discerning than that. Maybe they actually expect some competitive baseball to go along with the fancy neighborhood.

Maybe we aren’t all just slightly more evolved Labrador retrievers, easily distracted by something shiny and strange.

And the absence of fans is a reminder to those who run the Braves that, for as much they may see themselves as a cutting-edge outfit, their core business remains baseball, not real estate.

Reader Comments 0

29 comments
Classof98
Classof98

108 days until UGA-Appalachian State.

blevins1491
blevins1491

Scary part: Braves have compiled this sorry record while almost entirely healthy. You think it's ugly now, just wait til a front-liner gets hurt. Zero depth

Aaron DC
Aaron DC

I live in DC and happen to be in Atlanta during the opening homestand visiting friends. It was awesome to see the Nats play at your new stadium. We were able to get amazing seats on the third baseline for just 30 bucks. 


Maybe you should do some marketing to visiting teams to help fill your stands. 

Charles Boyer
Charles Boyer

New ballpark, same old Liberty Media Braves.  It's apparent that the ownership is not really interested in building a winner, as they have dumped most all of the talent on the team and have been "two years away" for at least five years. 


I wouldn't drive across the city to spend money watching this team, much less 5-6 hours from a location somewhere else in the southeast.

GTYJ
GTYJ

Totally agree!!

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Wish Arthur Blank...or anyone would buy this team.


Its not going anywhere.

GTroller
GTroller

Pro sports __cks.  And the Braves, especially.  Those guys couldn't care less whether the Braves win or lose.  It's all about their game and how much money they can make.

If you live in the ATL and want to watch a game with some spirit and passion, go watch GT play at Bobby Dodd this fall... or The Dawgs play in Athens, for that matter.  But don't waste your money on those clowns.

Hail Tech
Hail Tech

The team is a got damm embarrassment to the entire region and MLB. Fredi led the charge to the bottom. We're basically Marlins-North.  ...oh I wonder why people aren't showing up to watch this garbage??

RJBraves
RJBraves

Btw, the Braves still play in Atlanta! They smartly moved outside of the confines of a city government under criminal investigation for bribery, embezzlement etc....

SunTrust Park is a grand slam and the team will be good long term! Enjoy the summer at the battery and stop the negativity!

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

@RJBraves  Funny you should mention embezzlement, when the Cobb Commissioners stole $300 million from Cobb taxpayers without a vote, for a private enterprise.  Certainly, none of them were bribed with club seats or other cash by Liberty Media or the barves front office to push that tax money giveaway, right?  Right?

Moron.

PTC DAWG1
PTC DAWG1

@RJBraves Doesn't matter where they play...team leadership is lacking.  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@RJBraves: ". . . the team will be good long term!"

___________________

It's been 22 years, dimbulb. How the hell long a term are we talking about here? 

Raise your standards; they're pathetic.

basilisk4
basilisk4

We get it, Steve -- you wish they hadn't moved the stadium.  They have, and it's great.  Get over it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@basilisk4 

Who the hell cares about a great stadium when the team is among the worst in MLB?!

kenstallings
kenstallings

Hummer your vitriole for this stadium was evident before it was built. It's old already. The Braves are still in Atlanta. Grow up already!

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@kenstallings The article is about the product on the field sucking. It does. You guys get so damn hot about any criticism of the stadium, you'd think your mother built it or something. Take your own advice.

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

Yep, lots of people defending the team that don't realize the team sucks and nobody cares about the new atadium. These Liberty media lackeys are a sensitive bunch!

PTC DAWG1
PTC DAWG1

@kenstallings The Braves are most certainly not in the city limits of Atlanta..I assume you can interpret a map.  Not that it matters, this team stinks, no matter where they play.  

Zino
Zino

Kasim should have spent the money to keep the braves in Atl -- a few hundred million would have been worth it

basilisk4
basilisk4

@MoreySims Instead he spent all that money on the garbage Falcons, who still haven't won anything and bring nowhere near as much revenue.  Just the latest in a long line of dumb financial decisions by the City of Atlanta -- it's been all downhill in the mayor's office since Andy Young.

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

@FineousMcDirtyBird Wait, so the football stadium will host a college football championship, a Superbowl, and a Final Four in back to back years, and possibly a World Cup in 2026, and the new baseball stadium may host an MLB All-Star Game, and World Series, but only if the team qualifies for it?

Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

bravesfan15
bravesfan15

@Hell Horsey @FineousMcDirtyBird  A baseball stadium, at a cost of $300m to the taxpayer, will host 80+ games with 30,000 fans. A football stadium, at a cost of $600m to the taxpayer, will host 10-15 games with 70,000 fans. Do the math on which one cost less and attracts more fans, money and jobs.


PTC DAWG1
PTC DAWG1

@bravesfan15 @Hell Horsey @FineousMcDirtyBird You do know that the Stadium will host more than just football games, right?  And having Blank put up 80% was a deal too good for the City/State to walk away from.  The hotel/motel tax pays for a majority of it anyways...let the visitors contribute.  

TOJacket
TOJacket

How long till Football starts?