The final Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field ended up being a good pitcher’ duel, with Julio Teheran triumphing over Detroit’s Justin Verlander, as the team preps for a move to SunTrust Park for the 2017 season.
It was an emotional day at Turner Field, originally built for the 1996 Summer Olympics and then converted to a ballpark. Though Turner Field isn’t a great facility — the concourses are dark, not all the sightlines are good and the location never ended up creating any development — there were plenty of memories made there for local fans. You don’t get the sense that too many tears are being shed by Braves fans over the move. And there’s a simple reason why. The biggest problem with Turner Field was that it wasn’t Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where the greatest Braves memories were made: it allowed Atlanta city leaders to pursue and land the Milwaukee Braves, it provided a showcase for Hank Aaron’s amazing accomplishments, and it hosted the great renaissance of Atlanta Braves baseball in the 1990s.
Indeed, last night Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz were honored before the 1-0 win over the Tigers, but all three began their Braves’ tenures at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Atlanta Braves might have won a slew of divisional titles while playing at SunTrust Park, but it’s important to note that for all the success the team never won a World Series while playing there. The team’s last championship came in 1995 — before SunTrust Park opened.
For the current Braves management, it’s on to the future. And that future looks pretty good: the team won its last five series of 2016, and there’s public opinion for the Braves to make Brian Snitker the permanent manager, not just an interim one. SunTrust Park and a youthful team built around pitching are the team’s future. It could end up being a stunning 2017: we’re guessing the fans will end up loving the SunTrust Park experience, which will combine some cutting-edge ballpark technology with plenty to do before and after the games. If all goes well, Turner Field will become a centerpiece for an expansion of the Georgia State University campus and the home of a winning football team. In the end, for Braves fans Turner Field will probably be remembered for what it was: an interim ballpark solution that paved the way for SunTrust Park.