Creating the Ultimate Fan Experience at Atlanta’s New Stadium
- Jun 07, 2017
When the Atlanta Braves announced the team would be moving from its home at Turner Field to a to-be-built stadium in Cobb County, the city was shocked. While we had all grown to love “The Ted,” for its Olympics history, Blue Lot tailgating and the collected experiences Braves fans shared there, the planner and designer inside me was excited at the opportunity for a more-connected environment for Braves Country.
Opportunely, HGOR was hired by the Atlanta Braves, Liberty Media and a team of national developers to design the public areas of the 60-acre mixed-use project: The Battery at SunTrust Park. We had the chance to create a place for visitors coming to see Braves game; those coming to work in the offices on-site; residents living in the multifamily buildings; visitors coming for a show at the Coca-Cola Roxy theater; and those just coming for dinner at one of the chef-driven restaurants or to shop at the retail tenants across the development. With all the “mixed uses” available at The Battery—the South’s pre-eminent lifestyle destination—we set out to thoughtfully plan and design the plaza where everything would come together.
Creating a sense of place
The centrally located Plaza is an approximately 76,000-square-foot terminus connecting the new stadium with two levels of surrounding retail, a 10-story office building and a 264-room hotel. We maintained “end of the day” programming intentions throughout the design process to create a space where people would want to spend time on non-game days. We needed to preserve the vibrancy of activity for year-round enjoyment. After many meetings gathering input from the Braves executive team and the developers, we created five water features, programmable stage and seating, event flexibility, iconic structures and integrated indoor/outdoor uses—all while creating great ROI for the client. For example, we initially wanted to install natural grass, but decided to use a durable and sustainable turf that would hold up better against the high traffic, which is a better long-term investment for the owner.
We wanted to create a sense of place throughout the development with unique features, functionality, comfort and flexibility to create a more intimate and interesting environment than visitors experienced at the previous stadium. All of our designs are inherently centered around socialization. Sports environments are trending more toward this by expanding special event capabilities, food and beverage options, and socializing opportunities.
The success of The Battery ultimately depends on activity, which includes the foot traffic of the plaza, of course, but also the interactions occurring before, during and after games, as visitors engage with the development. The team behind The Battery has striven to create the ultimate fan experience for fans, residents, diners, shoppers and all visitors by designing a comfortable, walkable, interactive and connected environment.
The Plaza is designed for maximum pedestrian flow while allowing for abundant seating options, from terraced seating to benches to comfortable turf. Boundless food choices are available. Visitors can walk directly into the ball park from the Plaza via a pedestrian bridge on the second floor of the Food and Beverage Building. A main performance stage with a 26-foot x 11-foot LED screen hosts energetic concerts, with a main lawn that holds more than 2,000 people for special events. And if there’s not enough going on around you, the entire Plaza is Wi-Fi equipped, which required special conduit routing.
One of the most iconic—and photographed—structures of the Plaza thus far is a one-of-a-kind, 80-foot-tall multi-level shade canopy with a suspended baseball sculpture and state-of-the-art video board. The interactive water feature, centrally located within the Plaza, was a must-have for the Braves. Baseball is a family sport, and we knew the plaza had to appeal to fans of all ages. Visitors can rest along the intimate boundaries, while children splash in the cool water on hot Georgia days. Five water features give dimension to the Plaza, including one specifically for kids, and provide another reason to stay on-site, when families otherwise would go home with children who are tired of sitting.
Now that the gates are open and the home opener has been played, we’re excited to see fans’ surprise and delight over the details involved with the Plaza as they explore the site this season.