An Interview with Turner Field ‘Expert’ Kurt Smith

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Wednesday April 18, 2012

Douglas “Chuck” Booth- (Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Today’s expert is Kurt Smith.  Kurt will be the interview subject of the following parks: Citizens Bank Ball Park Tropicana Field and today’s featured expert Article of Turner Field.  Kurt is highly respected in the ball park chaser community for his BallparkEGuides.  After you are done reading this article  I implore you trust in Kurt to deliver up tips and suggestive idea’s on how to make your stadium visits affordable and pleasurable.  I had a chance to ask some questions of the man recently.

DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Experts Interview Kurt.  Please tell us about yourself and then give us a bit of background information on your life as a Braves Fan?”

KS: “I’ve been to Turner Field for a few games and a tour, in researching for the Turner Field E-Guide that is available at my website. I wouldn’t call myself a Braves fan necessarily, but there are a lot of things I like about the team. They have a history of great players like Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Dale Murphy, and I loved watching Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine pitch in their prime. Turner Field is a fine ballpark too; they did a nice job tearing it up after the Olympics and on a nice day it’s as good a place as any to see a game. Braves games are very affordable too; the team gives a lot of value even though they are putting a pretty good product on the field. So in a pinch, I could certainly pull for the Braves.

DB: “As one of the ballpark experts who takes it to the extreme, how do you rank Turner Field versus the rest of the Ballparks?”

KS: “I wouldn’t put Turner Field in the same class as classics like Wrigley or Fenway, nor do I think it quite measures up to the newer greats like PNC Park or Camden Yards. But it’s a highly underrated place to see a ballgame and I might consider it in my top ten favorites.Good seats aren’t expensive, there’s a lot for kids to do like Tooner Field and the SkyField, and there are great views from plenty of vantage points. It’s got a brick exterior, classic blue seats, a chopping Chick-Fil-A cow and a Coca-Cola bottle that shoots fireworks, so it recognizes classic local greatness. And there’s the Chop House, Scouts Alley and all of the interactive games. Turner Field is a great ballpark. I suppose if it was built around a cool landmark, like the B&O Warehouse in Baltimore or the Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh, it would be one of the best. But even as it is there’s certainly nothing wrong with it as a venue.

DB: “What do you think of the ‘Tomahawk chop and or chant?”

KS: “Well, if I’m correct it didn’t originate in Atlanta; I think it started with the Florida State Seminoles. I think it’s cool for a team to have a cheer that is unique to their team. I’m not a descendant of American Indians, so I can’t say whether I’d be offended by the Tomahawk Chop if I was. Obviously, whether someone is offended doesn’t deter the chant, and the Braves even play music for it and sell foam tomahawks (I bought one), so I doubt there’s much of a fuss about it.”

DB: “Despite the Braves being one of the best franchises over the last 20 years the team does not draw well. Why do you think that is Kurt?”

KS: “That’s a tough question to answer. I would say the summer heat is a factor, but if you look at the Braves attendance numbers, they still draw best during the summer months, so I doubt it’s that.When the Braves got new ownership, they polled their fans about what would bring them out more, and one of the complaints they heard the most was of poor customer service. So that could have been a reason for their attendance troubles for 14 straight years of division titles.  Honestly, you could point to Atlanta and argue that it’s just not a great sports market. The Falcons don’t draw very well, the hockey team just moved to Winnipeg of all places, and even Atlanta Motor Speedway has lost a race on the NASCAR schedule due to attendance, despite being one of the sport’s classic tracks. It’s a southeast affliction…the Rays have awful attendance despite their recent success on the field, and the Marlins couldn’t draw flies in their old football stadium. We’ll see how they do with the new ballpark.What it is particularly I can’t say, but it could be a combination of all of these things.”

DB: “The Braves seem to have a lot of post game concerts i.e…other pregame and post-game frills, what have you seen Turner Field?”

KS: “I haven’t been fortunate enough to catch a post-game show or fireworks display at Turner Field, but I’m sure it’s well worth the price of the ticket—in my experience baseball teams don’t mess around when it comes to fireworks displays. I don’t know who else will be appearing this year as far as musical acts, but Lynyrd Skynyrd will be playing Turner Field in September of this year, so that should be pretty cool.  Teams that don’t draw so well often have the extras to get people into the ballpark, and it usually brings in a bigger crowd. Sometimes a team not filling up the stands every night can be a blessing to ballpark travelers.”

DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to and from Turner Field?”

KS: “Driving to Turner Field generally entails dealing with what Atlantans call the “Connector”—the junction where I-75, I-85 and I-20 meet…and that is not fun at rush hour. There are ways around the heavy traffic, like approaching from the south if you can without much headache, but Atlanta rush hour traffic is Bad. Parking at Turner is fairly reasonable, but you’re likely to do some walking.  So I like to use the MARTA Braves Shuttle. The shuttle picks up riders from the Five Points Station, which can be accessed by any train line in the MARTA system without a transfer. The shuttle is free with your train ticket stub, so at most you’re paying for one round trip train ride, and there’s plenty of buses waiting after the game. And you can walk through Underground Atlanta and get something for your goodie bag.”

DB: :What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Turner Field for the very first time?”

KS: “Well if you’re a bargain hunter, certainly take advantage of the Skyline seats, which go on sale for $1 just before the gates open. They’re the outermost seats in the upper level, but most nights in Atlanta you should be able to move to a better seat without much hassle. Even if there’s no seats, you can enjoy the game from the Chop House or another standing area.I would also say bring the kids; there’s so much for them to do. You can show them Tooner Field, with the interactive games and wiffle ball field, and the Sky Field up in left, where kids can get a mist spray, run down a basepath, and see a view of the city. And the Braves Hall of Fame Museum and Scouts Alley are definitely very cool, too.”

DB: “How is the food at Turner Field? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”

KS: “I don’t know if I’d rank Turner among the tops as far as culinary delights; they have a lot of different food items, and they’re certainly adequate, but I don’t know that there’s a standout thing like the Tony Luke’s cheesesteak in Philly or the Ben’s Chili dog in Washington.  They do have a great stand for dog lovers called “Top Dog Express”, where you can get a large hot dog Mexican, New York, Chicago or Georgia style. At my last trip there I had a Georgia Dog—a big dog with Cole slaw piled on it. It was weird, but I really enjoyed it. And I haven’t had the good fortune to try a McCann’s Burger yet, but they get raves everywhere I’ve looked, so I’ll have to put that on the list for my next trip.”

DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Turner Field?”

KS: “My last game there was a good one. My wife and I took advantage of Buck Belue Five Buck Night, and we saw the Coca-Cola bottle shoot off fireworks for a Braves homer (by Brian McCann, I believe), the Home Depot Tool Race, the Tomahawk Chop in full swing, and a tremendous catch in right field by a Braves outfielder (sorry, can’t remember who it was). The Braves won, and Craig Kimbrel earned a lights-out save.I remember by the time the game ended, we had improved our seats to the infield in the lower level! It was a Monday night, so people weren’t sticking around I guess. But it was fun.”

DB: “Thank you very much Kurt.”

***Thank you to our Citizens Bank Ball Park Expert- Kurt Smith for participating in today’s article.  to learn more about Kurt Smith and his website click here***

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker . In 2015, I watched 224 MLB Games, spanning all 30 MLB Parks in 183 Days. Read about that World Record Journey at http://mlbreports.com/183in2015/229sked2015/
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