The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, Play Ball! Those three sounds signal the opening of my favorite time of year, baseball season! The Atlanta Braves open their 2017 season in the brand new Suntrust Park tonight. The Braves admit proudly that they borrowed and blended popular features from many stadiums in the design of their new home. It will bring together a classic ballpark feel, modern amenities and Southern hospitality, creating a fan experience unlike any other.
Another signature defining feature of the Braves’ stadium will prove to be its interaction with The Battery Atlanta. Scott Mize, Director of Digital Marketing at the Braves said, “it’s exciting for us because we’re pioneering that experience between a ballpark and a non-baseball venue.” The stadium which has 41,000 seats, is adjacent to the 1.5-million-square-foot mixed-use development, featuring year-round amenities like shopping, restaurants, an Omni Hotel, The Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre, 550 residences and One Ballpark Center, Comcast’s regional office headquarters.
The Braves have also sought to enhance the fan experience with a slew of ticketing options, including more than 19,000 seats priced under $20.
The Atlanta Braves will also be reintroducing MLB’s Ballpark app to fans. “We’re placing an importance on the ticketing elements, whether it’s purchasing tickets or accessing your bar codes for the game and parking, or partnering with Waze and Uber on efficiently getting to the ballpark. We view the app as a core component to a fan’s game day experience”, says Mize.
As Mize alluded to, included within the Ballpark app will also be information provided by the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, Waze. Through a partnership with the Braves, Waze and Cobb County, if the Department of Transportation closes a road, re-routes traffic or impacts anything on the ground, fans will be notified in real-time through the Ballpark app without having to wait for a smartphone alert.
Also, a new built-in artificial intelligence feature, called Remedy, will assist in enhancing the fan experience and providing better overall customer service. If someone didn’t have an experience at SunTrust Park that met his or her standards or our standards, it’s an opportunity for them to raise their hand and for us, an opportunity to ‘Remedy’ the situation. The Braves will be Remedy’s first customer.
Additionally, premium ticket holders will be able to order concessions via Bypass, a new addition to the app, and have it delivered to their seat. Another artificial intelligence feature called Satisfi will also help Braves fans navigate the new venue. Ask a question about the nearest bathroom or hotdog stand, and the app will send you to the nearest location. In fact, thanks to what is called Comcast’s all-fiber network and multi-terabit capabilities, the Braves said SunTrust Park will have the highest-capacity network serving any stadium and mixed-use development in the nation.
So what’s in it for brands you say? If teams are looking for sponsors to pay $5 to $10 million a year for naming rights, they need a venue that brands will be proud to attach their names to. Further sponsors also want to associate themselves with modern facilities that provide a more technologically advanced fan experience.
This expansion of this idea of what is a stadium – an entertainment complex in which technology plays a greater role – doesn’t have to take away from the purity of the game. It’s a positive. There’s potential to bring more people into the game because of the energy going on around it. That’s a lot of what I see as going on…just seeing a game is enough for a strong fan of the game, but these stadiums and teams depend on more than people who just love the game to fill the seats and drive their businesses.
It’s as if Turner Field lost a few pounds, hit the gym, had a bit of work done and moved out to the suburbs. Play Ball Braves, Play Ball!