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SunTrust Park Taking Shape as Debut Nears

Chop House, SunTrust Park

As its opening approaches, some significant pieces are falling into place for SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves

With an exhibition game featuring the Braves and the New York Yankees scheduled for March 31, followed by the regular season opener on April 14, there are some big dates ahead for the new Cobb County facility. For the Braves, a bit of good news came on Friday, when the county issued a certificate of occupancy for SunTrust Park.

Though some finishing touches at the ballpark are still being put into place, the county found that SunTrust Park has already met the criteria to receive the certificate. More from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“After hundreds of inspections throughout 30 months, the stadium has fulfilled and passed all required inspections by Cobb County Building Department and the Cobb County Fire Marshal’s Office,” according to an announcement posted on the county government’s website.

The Braves said in a statement that they “are excited to reach this key milestone at SunTrust Park.”

Cobb noted that by law every new business, tenant or building is required by the county to have a certificate of occupancy before the general public can occupy a facility.

“This certificate indicates that the building or tenant meets the county’s minimum adopted building and fire codes,” the county said.

The certificate of occupancy is certainly a big milestone for SunTrust Park, which is being equipped with extended netting–a feature the Braves say will ensure fan safety.

The Braves have confirmed that the protective netting at SunTrust Park will extend to the far ends of both dugouts, passing the length of the screen at the team’s former home, Turner Field. According to Braves president of business Derek Schiller, the length of the netting–which exceed the recommendations handed down by Major League Baseball–should fit the needs of SunTrust Park. More from the Albany Herald:

“When you’re designing a new ballpark, you can do these things from the very ground up,” Schiller said. “(The end of the dugouts) became a natural place to locate the net. … When you think about having more fans behind the net, that’s certainly something that is a benefit of this.

“You want to try to have an environment where you have what you believe to be the appropriate level of coverage of netting for how your ballpark is designed. And we believe that this net gives us the appropriate level of coverage for the most number of seats for this particular ballpark.”

Schiller said innovations have made protective screens “thinner but in fact stronger,” meaning “we’re getting the ability to cover the most number of seats with the least view issues as possible.”

For their final season at Turner Field, the Braves increased the height of the outer-wing netting, which extended to both dugouts, from 10 feet to 35 feet, matching the height of the screen behind the plate.

The dugouts are positioned farther down the base lines at SunTrust Park than at Turner Field, further increasing the expanse of screened seats, although the dugouts themselves are not quite as long.

The Braves are not be the only club that is looking to lengthen protective netting. The Houston Astros announced earlier this month that they will extend the netting at Minute Maid Park for the 2017 season, and several minor league teams have undertaken similar projects.

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