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Atlanta Braves’ brass discuss SunTrust Park issues at Billy Joel concert

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Hours before Billy Joel took the stage at SunTrust Park on Friday, fans began filtering into the stadium area. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

Many people had an enjoyable experience at the Billy Joel concert Friday night at SunTrust Park.

Others are still complaining.

Lines, parking, traffic, concessions, lighting – you name it, there was grousing.

More than 37,000 people came to see Billy Joel on April 28, 2017. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

The good news is that the next concert scheduled at the Atlanta Braves’ Cobb County home isn’t until July 9, when Metallica thunders into town.

The better news is that the brass at the stadium has heard your grievances about the first show held at the venue and knows they have work to do to meet fans’ expectations going forward.

In an interview Monday afternoon with Beth Marshall, senior director of public relations for the Braves, she addressed concerns and offered some potential fixes.

“Not having any pre-tests for any concerts like we did for baseball (before opening day), we were learning as we went,” Marshall said. “One of the big pieces is educating concertgoers how to experience a concert at SunTrust Park, which might be different than what they experience at other venues.”

Some of the biggest issues:

The lengthy delay some experienced leaving stadium parking lots: “We weren’t used to everyone leaving at the same time, as opposed to a baseball game when people might leave in the 6th or 7th inning,” Marshall said. “At a concert, everyone waits until the end and there was a mass exodus. We learned from that and procedures of how people exit the lots will be reworked for the next (concert).”

Concession issues, including lines clogging the concourse area for patrons trying to get to their seats: “That’s an ongoing thing that we’re working on with (concessionaire) Delaware North (Sportservice). The first two baseball games, when we had a full house, we had similar problems and that’s something we’re continuing to improve upon.”

The Braves staff knows they need to make some changes before the next show at the stadium – Metallica in July. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

Congestion at the ride share area: “We know that more and more fans at games and concerts are using ride share, so we’re continuing to work with (ride share services) to work on the proper area for zoning and how the cars enter and exit the area to drop-off and pick up.”

The demand outweighing the supply for those who came to The Battery Atlanta early, hoping to eat at one of the compound’s restaurants: “There will definitely be a few more restaurants open for the Metallica show,” Marshall said. Among them are PBR Atlanta, Feed Fried Chicken and Such, C. Ellet’s steakhouse, Goldberg’s Fine Foods and Atlanta’s first Wahlburgers.

The lights that stayed on throughout the show in the seating areas, which some said marred their concert experience: Live Nation requested that the venue turn off those lights, and Marshall acknowledged it was a SunTrust Park issue. “We are tweaking it for the future so that we can turn down the lighting under the cantilevered sections,” she said.

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