Earlier this week, Major League Baseball released its 2017 schedules for all 30 teams, and fans of the Atlanta Braves finally got a glimpse of what lies ahead next season.
It was long-rumored that the Braves would start the season on the road and would have to wait a while to officially open SunTrust Park. It was also believed that the San Diego Padres would be the team Atlanta hosts for their first series at the new ballpark. Both of those rumors ended up being true.
But nobody saw this coming: in the first month of Braves baseball at the new stadium, they’ll host just seven regular-season games. They’ll play 17 of their 24 April games on the road.
(Also read: The Braves’ magic number is down to 7)
That’s going to make it an even tougher ticket for those looking to attend one of the first games in the new stadium. Three of those seven games are against the Washington Nationals, so at least we’ll get a chance to hear the beautiful sound of 40,000 people booing Bryce Harper again.
On the other hand, a co-worker of mine noted that this dearth of April home games might actually be a positive for the franchise if SunTrust Park’s traffic and parking situation really does turn out to be a worst-case scenario. It’ll give the front office and county leaders a chance to call emergency meetings and assess the problems preventing fans from getting to the ballpark. Instead of having to worry about dealing with the headaches a dozen or more times in the first month, they’ll only have a few chances to get it wrong – or right.
And I’ll say this: while I’m not a construction expert, all of the buildings around the stadium that’ll come to be the Battery are nowhere near finished, and that bridge across I-285 is still just getting started. So maybe it’s a good thing that they’re not going to be dealing with the crowds all that much at the beginning of the season.
As with every professional sport, the schedule will eventually even out. The Braves start May with seven home games, and they’ll play 16 of 29 games at home in that month. In June, 17 of their 27 games are at SunTrust Park. Then, they’ll spend much of July on the road before playing a majority of their games at home down the stretch in August and September.
With any luck, Atlanta will have a few games at home in October, too.Follow @Sean_Breslin