On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric at Truist Park
So you’ve decided to heed the call to adventure. Good for you. If you need to refer back to what the Guide actually is or who I actually am, please refer to the included links.
The Cumberland Baseball Team
The Guide says the following about Truist Park:
In theory, this place should be amazing. But it hovers in the consciousness after the visit in exactly the way that a brick does not. Also, the less said about the local chant, the better.
If everyone was being honest, this team would be called the Cumberland Baseball Team, because this team has not been located in downtown Atlanta since 2016. After that year, the team segregated themselves from the city of Atlanta by moving to the Cumberland area, which is an edge city in Cobb County located in an unincorporated area of the northwest Atlanta metropolitan area, Georgia, United States. The Dodger equivalent would be moving to a site at the furthest edge of Los Angeles. Technically, if you go on Google Maps, the team is still located in Atlanta, just on the furthest possible edge, which is not as widely known as you would think if you do not live in the area.
You would think that the team would have basked in last year’s title, and rightfully so, the first title in over twenty-five years. The pace of the celebration seemed to vary whether you were waiting in downtown Atlanta or by Truist Park in Cumberland.
Fastest parade of all time…. @Braves #BattleAtl pic.twitter.com/RqhnXBZUjj— Teeee (@teeeehall) November 5, 2021
Blink and you’ll miss it in Atlanta proper...linger in the home base of Cumberland, while bragging that all of Braves country (think the South, but not Florida) supports the team. Frankly, it’s a little problematic and I keep coming back to that word when writing up this entry of the Guide.
In a lot of ways, I should be raving about how good Truist Park is, as the stadium is modern, there’s a newly installed neighborhood with places to drink and eat, and you are likely to watch some competitive baseball. In some ways, my experience at Truist Park is what gave birth to the Guide, because on paper, this park should be amazing. But based on what I went through last time, even though I had the option to go back to Atlanta during the NLCS, you could not have paid me an adequate amount of money to go. But there is enough off about the Truist Park experience that if you are unaware if you decide to go to a Los Angeles/Atlanta game, your experience will be diminished depending on your levels of empathy.
The Five Questions of the Guide:
1. Is it worth going here?
- As of now, no.
This subjective ranking is the harshest that I have given so far. Frankly, the ranking got worse over time and I will go into the why in Section 4. Let me discuss the positives of Truist Park, which I fully acknowledge but have to admit, are overshadowed.
The sightlines at Truist Park are great with lively fans and pregame festivities to rival most ballparks I can think of. Customer service at Truist Park is top-notch. My MLB Ballpark app was on the fritz for the June 6, 2021 game I went to. I was directed to customer service and they gave me water because it was quite muggy without any request. Then when customer service could not access a copy of my e-ticket, they just printed me up a paper one and sent me on my way. As you can tell from the photos and videos, Truist Park is quite a looker. Normally, I would be raving about a location with anecdotes and art like I have provided.
There are two reasons why a Dodger fan should not go to a game at Truist Park: cost and culture. I have no problem calling out things that are problematic (see: fights at Dodger Stadium, ownership that is taking advantage of people in Cincinnati, etc.) I will address the cost later on in this Guide, but let’s rip the bandage of the most problematic part of going to Truist Park: the racist chant.
As of 2020, the stadium actually does not play the chant, instead offering a drumbeat and graphics to supplement what the crowd is doing, which in some ways is really bad if you spend a minute to think about it.
The description of the included video makes my feelings on the subject quite clear. This game was the first game I went to in 2021 that had no COVID restrictions at all (which was problematic in itself, considering the general apathy to hostility to COVID vaccination I encountered while in Atlanta), and being surrounded by about 37,000 to 40,000 screaming fans was a thrill. Until they broke out into the chant...
I can already hear complaints in my head going “oh, it’s part of our culture / we’re honoring Native Americans / you’re being overly sensitive / you clearly drink soy milk.”
- Unless you’re Native American, no, it’s not.
- I literally can demonstrate to you empirical proof that said chant is not honoring Native Americans.
- No, I am not. Admittedly, I was a bit ambivalent about the entire affair (this chant is probably bad, but it is not my problem is where my headspace was) until my visit and the crowd repeatedly broke into the chant and I was like “nope, this chant is bad, empirically so, you should all feel bad, oh my god what I am actually doing here.”
- That’s irrelevant and I do not as there is no such thing as soy milk. You show me a mammal that lactates soy liquid and you can call it milk. Otherwise, that liquid is soy juice, which sounds empirically disgusting. (Hat tip to Lewis Black.) Generally, I drink 2% milk, water, or Diet Coke, depending on the situation.
In my view, the chant is not okay. You may be fine with it, and I honestly do not care if you are. The fact that the Atlanta team still tries to lean into the chant as much as they can get away with it pretty much tells you all you need to know about the stadium experience of Truist Park, which greatly mars what is generally a pleasant baseball watching experience, even in non-cooperative weather.
In fact, I think we all need a palette cleanser after all this point of discussion. Here is Brennan Lee Mulligan of Dropout in Dimension 20: Misfits and Magic, in a legally distinct from Harry Potter setting that adequately summarizes my feelings in the immediate aftermath of hearing the chant. (Once again, this recommendation is an off the beaten path gem I am happy to share with you all. The relevant bit is queued up for you and lasts about a minute, but even without context, the rest of the eight-minute clip is pretty good and entirely improvised.) Also, I wish I had people as lively and entertaining to play tabletop games with, but that’s sharing outside the purview of the Guide.
The team has also spent considerable money bolstering the area around the ballpark in the Battery neighborhood. The best analogy I have is that imagine if Disneyland were focused purely on a baseball team and was worse (no rides). It’s like the neighborhood around Wrigley Field, but artificial, I don’t know how else to put it.
Doing stuff in the Battery is not terrible by any measure unless you try to do it on Sundays. Why you ask? At the end of the day, you are still in the South, so stuff closes early (in some cases, real early on Sunday). And if you happen to think “hey, this experience is going to Fresno, California, but with extra steps...and humidity,” you would not be that far off.
So rule of thumb: enjoy the Battery, but be prepared to leave early if you go on Sunday. You now have a Guide and you have thus been warned.
2. How should I get there?
Again, I cannot envision anyone going to Atlanta by any other method apart from an airplane, unless they actually live nearby. As to getting to the game itself at Truist Park, you basically have two options, and they are entirely dependent on where you stay.
If you are staying at what is essentially the team hotel, the Omni Hotel at the Battery, you can literally walk less than a few hundred feet to the game, you would just need a rental car if you were wanting to go elsewhere in the Atlanta area.
If you are staying anywhere else, I would strongly recommend that you drive yourself to the ballpark. You could also rideshare there, but then you would have a nightmarish time trying to get a rideshare back. It took almost two and a half hours to hail a rideshare after my game on June 5, 2021, during the hot, sweltering Southern night. Going to Truist without a car is just not worth it.
3. Where should I stay?
Just as a point of order, before publishing these entries, I double-check where I have previously stayed so that if prices have noticeably changed, I can adequately warn you. In my previous stay in Atlanta, I stayed at a nearby hotel that was not the team-owned Omni Hotel as shown here. My mistake was not renting a car, because I thought I could rideshare to the game (from the World of Coca-Cola, which is the main reason I would go back to Atlanta) and walk back to my hotel.
That plan fell apart in a hurry because the area between the ballpark and my hotel gave me the creeps so I decided to air on the side of caution to get a rideshare, which took almost three hours. In retrospect, I should have rented a car and that applies to any of the hotels that you see in this illustration.
In my double-check for writing this entry, I saw that prices for nearby hotels, which were NOT the team-owned Omni Hotel at the Battery, were actually lower than what I saw last year for the weekday series. The series in 2022 between Los Angeles and Atlanta is a weekend affair.
So then I double-checked the team-owned, Omni Hotel at the Battery, for the upcoming series in June. I originally stayed there for a single night on my last trip because this hotel wanted a $1000 total for my entire two-day stay, which I thought was patently absurd. In perspective, here is how close this hotel is to the ballpark. The hotel was fine - there were weird puddles of vomit in common areas, but the hotel did not scream luxury in any way apart from its proximity to Truist Park.
Prices have gone up here. It’s not a $1,000.00 for two days anymore. No, it is a thousand dollars a night. The entire three-game series, which is the minimum length of a stay that you can book, now costs a grand total of about $3,800.00. I am still angry at this revelation and I am not even going to Atlanta for the foreseeable future. As such, avoid this hotel like the plague - literally, stay anywhere else within your budget and rent a car if you decide to go to Truist Park.
4. Where should I sit?
If it sounds like I am quite sour regarding Truist Park, you would be correct. I really enjoy writing Guides and helping people. Writing negative reviews of things I enjoy really depresses me. Normally, in this section, I discuss where to sit at Truist Park in three different categories. For the first time in this Guide, I cannot do that.
Here is the sole recommendation if you have traveled to Truist Park to see a Los Angeles/Atlanta game: watch the game on TV, it can be in the Battery, it can be elsewhere. But do not pay into the sucker’s bet that is current ticket prices at Truist Park for these games in June.
As I mentioned in the San Francisco entry of the Guide, I am resigned to paying a premium for Dodgers/Giants tickets. I get it; it’s the rivalry series. In fact, I am honestly resigned to paying a premium for tickets at three ballparks, two of which I can live with:
- Dodger Stadium - makes sense, the team has me over a barrel if I want to see the Dodgers at home, but the ticket prices are getting to be a joke.
- Oracle Park - again - it’s for the rivalry, the teams have me over a barrel if I want to see the Dodgers near my home, which negates the savings from living close by.
- Angels Stadium - is generally unacceptable. Not a true rivalry either in my view. If the Angels actually start doing something, I’ll start caring. But the crosstown “rivalry” is not a reason to go to extremes for ticket prices.
You can now add Truist Park to this list.
I went to two games last year, the first one sitting in the Infiniti Club for about $150 (before fees) and on the field level on the first base side for about $60 (before fees) under the oversized roof to keep me out of the Georgia sun. I ended up using Stubhub for both games. Admittedly, those prices are a little steep, but doable if you plan ahead.
And if you go to a San Francisco/Atlanta in 2022, which is literally the preceding series, you would pay about the same (before fees), at worst maybe $20 bucks more. But you would also have the option to buy tickets directly from the team for about $11, which are up in the rafters, but it is not a terrible option.
As for the Dodgers series, you might ask? Well, apparently, someone told the Atlanta front office that the playoffs were not over so only Standing Room only tickets are available at $40 apiece. But if you wanted to sit where I sat, and you went to the secondary market, you would not be paying what I paid. For the exact same seats now, it’s about $500 and $180, respectively. And apparently, those are face value prices, or thereabouts. As such, the costs are entirely unacceptable.
If it were the Playoffs, I would get it, and if I really wanted to go, I would budget and consider it. But these prices for regular-season games? - absolutely not. What is beyond frustrating is that the Atlanta franchise is not hurting for money. I discussed this issue in-depth in my other series, It’s not my Money(ball)! As such, indulging these prices is paying into a sucker’s bet. I am all for paying premium prices during premium periods, but I refuse to pay playoff prices for games in June.
Normally, I divide up the ballpark and give recommendations about where to sit if you are on a budget, or if you want to have fun, or if you want to sit somewhere interesting. I literally cannot and will not do that for this entry in good conscience.
If you insist on going, then I would plead with you to see if you can find a broker or a last-minute deal where you can get a bargain for overpriced tickets. Or go to a non-Dodgers game, which frankly defeats the purpose of this Guide. Do not enable the fleecing of our fanbase because some folks want to treat a series in the summer as a playoff series.
5. After your trip, is it worth going back?
In the disclaimer to the Guide, I described the informal range of subjective outcomes after visiting a location. So far, I have been to two games at Truist Park, of which the Dodgers lost both.
- Hey, that was somehow NOT fun. Why did I put myself through all of this work?
When you add it up, in theory going to Truist Park should be a great experience. The ballpark has great sightlines and a festive atmosphere. Even if the neighborhood is artificial, at some point, the Battery will develop into its own character and be a unique addition to anyone who is a fan of baseball. But Truist Park's positives are absolutely dwarfed by both cultural and financial issues that I will not recommend that the average Dodger fan subject themselves to at this time.
Therefore, I cannot and will not recommend going to a Dodgers game at Truist Park. The following statement is how strongly I feel about the problematic nature of going to Truist Park: I would recommend going to a game in Oakland at the dilapidated Coliseum before I recommend that any Dodger fan visit Truist Park in Atlanta, regardless of the regular or postseason. If you don’t care about the chant and you have that much disposable income, then please enjoy Truist and be well.
If the Atlanta baseball club fixes its culture and ditches the chant - I’ll consider coming back. If the Atlanta baseball club restores a measure of sanity to its ticket prices for Dodger games - I’ll consider coming back. And I will update this Guide to reflect these changes. As of this article, I do not anticipate ever returning to Truist Park in Atlanta.