Atlanta is the becoming the pacesetter

Published 4:37 pm Thursday, March 12, 2020

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After taking in a couple of games at the Braves new spring training facility— Cool Today Park— it is easy to conclude that Atlanta is the pacesetter when it comes to new digs at home and at its spring training facility.

The word is that nobody has anything remotely close to what the Braves showcase.

There are more traditional ball parks in the majors, but there just can’t be anything to surpass Truist Park in Cobb County, originally carrying the name Sun Trust Park.   Nestled into a neighborhood of shops, restaurants and an upper scale hotel, attending a Braves game is a high-five experience. Braves fans who make their way here for spring training will enjoy another singular happening.

Anybody with a travel portfolio that includes several sojourns to the Sunshine state, can tell you all about the landscape and the communities which stretch the length of each of Florida’s coasts, but central Florida is different. While it is not a wasteland, it has more pasture land than concrete, more pines and scrub oak than high rise condos.

Where the Braves now cavort, you could, not too long ago, have hunted wild quail and spotted abundant cattle dotting the landscape. You find Cadillacs, Jaguars and Lexus’s on the coasts but pickup trucks here.   

You can leave Cool Today and within an hour’s drive there are plentiful white tail deer.   If you want to match wits with an Osceola turkey, that can be a delightful option, less than two hours away.

If you are up to it, you can fish Lake Okeechobee, a mite more than two hours east of the Braves quarters. Golf courses and retirement communities seem to spring up every day before the sun goes down.

People retire here to play golf and enjoy the sun when it is cold in most of the rest of the country. You can expect them to enjoy spring training baseball, which is good news regarding attendance for Braves games.   

There just aren’t any negatives about what the Braves have done in Northport. Local and state governments, along with developers, helped out when it came to financing the development of Cool Today Field.

When it comes to facilities, if they are old, you brag about tradition. (Who could not be overwhelmed with an opportunity to see a game in one of the oldest stadiums in the country?) When they are new, you are dealing with the state-of-the-art, pristine layouts that are overwhelming. If you want tradition, you go to Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

If you want state-of-the-art digs—when you talk about spring training—you come to Cool Today Park, which is a mere 16 miles from the Gulf of Mexico,

“If you like your job, you enjoy going to work, regardless of the environment,” said John Holland, Braves equipment manager. “I have always had a great appreciation for going to the ball park. But the Cool Today Park is so remarkable, that you get energized when you drive in. You can’t wait to get here and you can’t wait to get to work.”

All of baseball is raving about the Braves facilities which are nestled in a 90-acre complex which includes seven practice fields, eleven batting cages and more than 60 pitching mounds.   Everybody has elbow room and when they walk the halls of the complex, they are smitten with tradition—the history and glory of the franchise—from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta. Look out any window and you will see a palm tree, one of more than 300 which were planted here.

An attractive pond has been built which adds to the aurora of the complex. There may be trophy trout in the waters, but I don’t know about that.

Forgot to ask, but it would make sense that the Braves, who have left no stone unturned in bringing this development about, would not have a pond without fish.

Think about it. You can get up in the morning, go play 18 holes of golf, refresh yourself and then go the ball park where you can enjoy a nice lunch and enjoy an afternoon of baseball.

“Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd,

“Buy me some popcorn, peanut and crackerjack,

“I don’t care if we ever get back.”

Even with the foregoing lyrics giving way to steroids, sign stealing and greed, baseball is still a grand ole game.