What an amazing trip! We were field level and got to watch batting practice for the Atlanta Braves vs. Dodgers game at the SunTrust Club. It was a generous gift from a family business partner. To say we were blessed just doesn't do it justice. God's timing always amazes me, and it just so happened to be a date I was already slated to be in Atlanta to do my duty as an advisor for accessibility for SunTrust Stadium. I contacted my Braves liaison (Mary Elizabeth) and told her that I would be able to give her insight from an entirely different prospective (front row and field level from a chair). The way this process has worked in the past at Turner field, is a Braves rep would meet you at valet parking and escort you to your seats behind home plate via an elevator that followed the contour of the stairs.
I have toured the accessible areas at SunTrust Stadium, but no one covered how to access the field via a chair, so as always, I was prepped for an adventure. Upon arrival, I met up with Jim (a service coordinator for SunTrust Club tickets) and told him my desire to get on the field for batting practice and fan/player interaction. I was informed that I was the first wheeler they've had for the new stadium, and that they'd have to figure out a plan as there was no direct field access from club level. Lucky for us, Jim was a quick study, and out through the left field gates we went right onto the field. The "curve ball" came when we got to home plate and the batting nets were set. There was no way to safely get to the Braves dugout side of the field, so we posted up near the Dodger's dugout to watch as the heavy hitters took center stage. (A real sacrifice I know).
Little did we know how blessed we would be as Jim, the think outside the box professional he was, brought Dodgers first base coach (and former Braves player) George Lombard over to meet us, as well as Braves legendary catchers Ryan Klesko and Tyler Flowers! As if this wasn't blessing enough, as we started to head back in to our seats, management alerted us that we would be seated directly behind home plate, as there was a step up to our seats. All the food for this area was included in the tickets pricing also! Wow!! Great seats, player interaction, views of the bull pins, behind the scenes, and all you can eat ballgame food; this fat boy was jazzed. All this to be said, wheelchair or not, a little flexibility can lead to blessings you never expect. A few tips for your first visit;
- Arrive at the stadium early as there I a lot to take in and “van accessible” spots fill up fast.
- Hydrate! They don’t call it “Hotlanta” for nothing.
- Be patient as there is a lot of foot traffic and be prepared for security checks. All bags are subject to search.
- Check out a map of SunTrust Park beforehand as there are restaurants and shops in the Battery.
- Braves personnel have done a great job with wheelchair seating and options on locations as well as places for multiple chairs. Give Mary Elizabeth and crew a call to get options for your desired view. They have wheelchair seating high, low, outfield, home plate, and in sections that will deliver food and beverages.
- As always, be safe, watch for traffic (it is Atlanta) and cheer loud! Go Braves!!!
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0917/0534