These artist renditions of the Braves’ new stadium in Cobb County show the most detailed look yet of the field, which is scheduled to be finished for the start of the 2017 season. (Special Photos)
ATLANTA — The new Atlanta Braves home in Cobb County will feature a huge white canopy horseshoeing around the stadium’s top; parkland, including a mini baseball diamond outside the ballpark; and a man-made lake of about an acre that will serve as a connecting thread.
Braves officials released a handful of artist renderings of their new ballpark and proposed mixed-use development Wednesday, the most detailed look yet at the stadium and $400 million entertainment district that the team says will be filled with bars, restaurants, shops, office space, housing and at least one hotel.
Cobb County taxpayers are contributing $300 million toward stadium construction, along with $35 million for 30 years of capital maintenance. The stadium construction budget is $622 million.
Braves marketing executive Derek Schiller said that both the stadium and the majority of the private development will be open in time for the first pitch of the 2017 season.
The conceptual renderings don’t feature a lot of detail, but Schiller said the team’s architect, Populous, is right on schedule with its design, having largely completed the layout of the seating bowl. Populous is now working on what features the team will put into the premium and general concourse areas of the outfield.
Schiller said the lake, situated just over the right field wall, will be a “dramatic opportunity for fountains (to serve as a) backdrop to the ballpark and surrounding development.” He said a current concept is to place a boutique hotel near it.
It’s not clear if the lake will be within reach of home run balls.
“The exact layout is still being studied … but that would be a pretty big home run,” Schiller said. “I think the water feature represents an important juncture between the development and the ballpark and creates some unique opportunities for us, which includes the potential for fountains and other things we can do with water.”
When asked if the stadium will be a hitter’s park, Schiller said its dimensions have not been determined, but that the outfield wall will not be a smooth curve like at Turner Field.
“It will definitely have some power alleys to it,” Schiller said. “The exact dimensions of those are still being studied. We’d probably consider it more of a pitcher’s park. … But a lot of that is determined by who’s pitching and who’s hitting.”
The stadium will have three main decks, and Schiller repeated what the Braves have said all along: That there will be more seats closer to the field, giving the ballpark a more intimate feel than The Ted.
“Based on the sight-line studies, the design and the measurements Populous is giving us, we will absolutely accomplish that,” Schiller said.
Retired Braves great Dale Murphy said he was thrilled by the design of the stadium and impressed by the look of the private development.
“I think it will draw people from around the Southeast of the country,” Murphy said.
The Braves also consider the awning, triple the size of Turner Field’s, a unique design element that will serve the practical purpose of providing fans some protection from the sun or rain. It will be about 90 feet wide. And there will be green space, both inside and outside the stadium.
Schiller told reporters on a conference call that the stadium was oriented to the southwest, and renderings released by the team appeared to confirm that. Such an orientation would make it unique to active baseball stadiums and potentially raise questions about visibility at sunset for batters and fans in some of the priciest seats.
But later, Braves officials clarified and said that the stadium opens to the southwest, but the ballfield from home plate to center is actually south-southeast.
Still, that would be an atypical orientation. The vast majority of the 30 active Major League Baseball stadiums are positioned to the north or northeast. And the league rule 1.04 says it is “desirable” but not mandatory for a ballpark to be aligned so that “home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East-Northeast.”
Neil deMause, a baseball stadium expert who authored a book called Field of Schemes, said it’s unusual to have a a park orientated to the south. Only about a half-dozen MLB parks point in that direction, and each of them face more southeast.
“There’s a reason left-handed pitchers are called southpaws, because baseball stadiums face East so batters don’t look into the sun,” deMause said.