As different as the Braves will look on the field Monday for opening day — with Chipper Jones throwing out the ceremonial first pitch instead of playing third base and two new Uptons in the outfield, brothers B.J. and Justin — there are a few new features around Turner Field as well.
Every year the Braves try to improve the fan experience, and once again they’re aiming at appetites. Building on the successes of bringing Rathbun’s steak sandwiches to the ballpark last year, two new Atlanta restaurants are bringing their fare to Turner Field.
Chef Linton Hopkins will serve his award-winning Holeman & Finch Public House burgers at Turner Field this year. The double-patty cheeseburger topped with house-made ketchup, mustard and pickles was named the “South’s Best Late-Night Burger” by Southern Living magazine. Now it will be available in the Fan Plaza beyond center field.
The Braves also are selling 24 tickets to each game for an outfield seat near the H&F Burger stand and a fast pass to get to the front of the line. The cost is $32.
Dantanna’s restaurant also will serve their crab-cake sandwiches and sesame-steak skewers at a grill cart on the Terrace Level.
As for other changes in fare, McCann’s burgers, as in Braves catcher Brian McCann, will move to new locations, with stands near sections 216 and 231 and will be available in the ChopHouse. The ChopHouse, the outfield restaurant, has undergone a face-lift, with new lighting, furniture and a “Bobblehead wall” that features more than 250 Bobblehead dolls of Braves and other players from around the majors.
Also available this year will be two “Yicketty Yogurt” stands, at sections 206 and 316. The name is inspired by Chipper Jones and his terminology for a home run he introduced last season on his Twitter account.
The Braves have broadened their merchandising for the 2013 season as well, introducing a custom-merchandise shop at section 118 where fans can customize everything from T-shirts to iPhone cases. The ballpark will have a new “Big and Tall” shop near Section 151, featuring shirt sizes up to 6X and larger fitted caps. And the Braves are now selling Wilson and Rawlings leather gloves for fans who forgot theirs and want them to catch foul balls.
The Braves made some aesthetic changes to the ballpark, adding LED scoreboard clocks and moving the location of their retired jersey numbers.
Instead of the Sky Field facade in left field, the retired numbers of Hank Aaron, Greg Maddux, Dale Murphy and the like will be located between the terrace and club levels along the left- and right-field lines. With nine Braves numbers retired, in addition to Jackie Robinson’s 42, and with Jones’ No. 10 to go up in June, the Sky Field was getting crowded. The move also will allow those numbers to be featured more prominently.
For those wondering about the new Superior Plumbing Suite, the Braves combined two suites along the third-base side to accommodate 80 people and including valet parking and custom menu options. The suite has sold out for 2013. Those in the club level will notice that suites have been re-numbered from 1-53 and named for Braves players who wore those jersey numbers.
The Braves also have made some technological improvements, improving the in-park Wi-Fi, adding a tablet tour to the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame, and offering an app for iPhone and Android users that features video highlights, Braves radio broadcasts, seating chart information, ticket upgrades and more.
As for what else to expect Monday, the Braves are hosting a pregame concert by country singer Rodney Atkins that begins at 5:30 p.m. at Fan Plaza.
Atkins also will perform the national anthem, a ceremony that will feature a flyover by the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, including four T-6s, single-engine aircraft used to train pilots during World War II.
Atlanta opera singer Tim Miller will sing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch, and Miss America Mallory Hagan will lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:20 p.m. for the pregame ceremonies, which will include player introductions and Jones throwing out the first pitch.
Standing-room-only tickets are available for $17 in advance or $21 on Monday. For information go to braves.com/tickets, the ticket office at Turner Field, the Clubhouse Store at CNN Center, Ticketmaster outlets or call 800-745-3000.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. between the Braves and Phillies. Tim Hudson gets the nod for the Braves and left-hander Cole Hamels for the Phillies.
Gates will open at 4:40 p.m. Fans who do not have pre-purchased parking are encouraged to take alternate transportation. MARTA shuttles will begin their run from Five Points station/Underground Atlanta 90 minutes before first pitch and continue an hour after the game. For fans who want to arrive before those shuttles begin, three bus routes are available (Nos. 32, 49 and 55 from Five Points). For information, go to www.itsmarta.com.