A Trip to Atlanta's Turner Field Makes Me Appreciate Wrigley That Much More

A Trip to Atlanta's Turner Field Makes Me Appreciate Wrigley That Much More

I am, first and foremost, a Cubs fan. But I'm also a baseball fan and I enjoy seeing games in different MLB venues when given the opportunity. I was able to take in Cubs games in Miami, Denver, and Anaheim last year, along with non-Cubs games in Cincinnati, Boston, and The Bronx.

I can typically find little things to enjoy about each park, whether it's the food and beverage selection, the cool little features that have been incorporated into the outfield or the general structure, or the overall atmosphere of the place. In the end, it's still a baseball game, and I can find pleasure in the simple fact that I'm in attendance.

The monolithic hulk of Yankee Stadium stands as a modern-day Coliseum, and I felt like the emperor as I looked on from the tinted glass of the batter's eye of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar. Great food, great beer, and no need to leave your seat for either. My New York baseball experience was not that of the proletariat.

I set aside my bourgeoisie aspirations when I visited that old baseball basilica by the harbor (hah-buh), Fenway Park. I gazed up the Green Monster (Mawn-stuh), then around at the various ads and video boards, marveling that such a band-box of a ballpark could fit more than 10,000 people. It was cramped but quaint, and the modern touches gave the old girl a facelift that would make Donatella Versace jealous (then again, that isn't saying much).

Coors Field might have been my favorite road park. The combination of a beautiful High Plains evening and Junior Lake's electric debut made for a very memorable experience. Also, the Rox were celebrating their 20th anniversary, which meant that Larry Walker, Dante Bichette, Andres Gallaraga, and co. were all in attendance.

I had long criticized the city of Cincinnati for failing to capitalize on the presence of both football and baseball stadiums right downtown. When a buddy and I attended Great American Ballpark several years ago, we were forced to walk across the bridge to Kentucky in order to grab a beer and a bite before the game. They've since developed the heck out of the area around the fields, but it took far too long.

Miami has a beautiful park with all the amenities you could want, but there's no soul. Anaheim doesn't merit much recognition; it's little more than a generic oasis in a desert of parking lots.  Much the same can be said about Turner Field, a venue that is already obsolete, despite being only 17 years old.

With much of the Braves fanbase, not to mention a windfall of public funding, the team is planning to move north to Cobb County in the near future. Don't think Tom Ricketts isn't looking at that situation. One would think that a team with so much success would have a little more atmosphere or personality, or even attendance.

Granted, I was there for a Wednesday game at noon and the midday sun melted away a great deal of my will to live, but I was pretty underwhelmed by the fan support in Hotlanta. It seemed as though the Phillies had more than an acceptably-large cadre of behind enemy lines too.

The food selection was decent, though far from outstanding, but the Sweetwater Brewing stand just inside the gates offered a welcome repository for canned respite from the relentless heat. You could also buy 24 oz cans of domestic brews, macro in every sense of the word. Try keeping those things cold in 95 degrees.

The late arrival of one of my companions meant that we missed the fireworks of an Evan Gattis (Kyle Schwarber's prototype? Eh, just wishful thinking.) homer, which helped my fantasy team. We were, however, able to witness the Phillies' haranguing of Aaron, um, Harang, which hurt my fantasy team.

But despite being hard-boiled in my seat while watching a game that was less than competitive after the 3rd inning, I managed to find ways to entertain myself. Quite often, the folks around me found ways to entertain myself.

This was easily the most full Turner got; the place was a ghost town by game's end.

And then, for some reason, Tom Loxas decided to give us all a lesson in animal husbandry:

So there you have it, a vicarious trip to Turner Field, the soon-to-be-former home of the Atlanta Braves. Say what you will about Wrigley: it's a rat-infested dump, it's falling apart, it smells like piss, it's only filled with tourists (and that to a lessening degree as the losses continue to mount), that it's expensive. All of those things are true.

But it still has so much more character and atmosphere than Turner or nearly any other ballpark in the country. I agree with WilcoMeThat's assertion that we need to do a better job of letting go of our traditions a bit, but I sure hope that never means having to attend Cubs games in a antiseptic venue with all the originality of P. Diddy track.

Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman

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  • You did note that the Big Boss Man lured the Braves to his Cobb County. Did they at least eradicate the Tomahawk chop, or is the team too bad for the fans to bother? Anyway, Turner Field was a result of the usual "lets remove some seats from the Olympic Stadium."

    You about hit on the problem in Cincinnati that the ballpark, football stadium, and arena are on the wrong side of the I-71 expressway from downtown, and Kentucky is a better choice. At least Cleveland had enough sense to get the baseball stadium out of a similar situation and off the lakefront. BTW, the trolley tour points out that Chef Boyardee's boyhood home was where the Jacobs/Progressive Field* parking lot is now.

    _________
    *I am so fed up with corporate field names, especially when they have to be changed because the sponsor went bankrupt. Nobody is paying me to use them.

  • Of course, the all time abomination (at least watching on TV) was the Metrodome, especially the ball off the baggie or ceiling speaker. I'm sure the dome in St. Petersburg isn't much better.

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    When the Sox opened "New Comiskey" in 1991, it was really antiseptic and devoid of any personality. Admittedly, I've not been there in a long time, but I know that they've made efforts to upgrade some things (though I'm guessing you still have to climb what amounts to a ladder to get to the upper-deck seats). Camden Yards opened in '89, but then "The Jake" and others followed in the sort of throwback, bricks-and-nostalgia style in the early-to-mid-90's.

    Turner, however, managed to miss out on any semblance of originality or character, which is just too bad. Given that the summer sun in ATL is somewhat unrelenting, a walk through several parking lots isn't the ideal way to start a day at the park. And the stadium doesn't offer much reprieve either. At least they've got those tall beers though.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    The chronology implies (but not expressly) that the standard in 1990 was "something like Kansas City, but without the waterfall." Camden Yards was sort of a new idea, even though it opened a few years earlier, but took a bit of time to catch on as being the standard of stadium construction.

    On the other hand, Astros Park appears to have tried to rip off everyone, most notably the Crosley Field flagpoles, and parts of Tiger Stadium, but I assume that the oil company actually pays for its sign (unlike in Boston). And, the crooked yellow line cost the Astros a home run in the WS against you know who's favorite team.

    While the Ballpark at Arlington has a more prominent Tiger Stadium tribute, one site indicates that it is worst place to sit through a game, with the 100 degree heat and humidity.

    Of course, one could have taken the Steinbrenner track of "we can rebuild Yankee Stadium, but with infrastructure that works." Ricketts isn't assuring that.

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    In reply to jack:

    I'll actually be at a Rangers game tomorrow, against the Tigers no less. Of course, it's now called Globe Life Park.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Accuweather says thunderstorms and a high of 90. As indicated above, could be worse.

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