It’s nearly time to light the lights at SunTrust Park.
Hundreds of LED lights have been installed along the edge of the ballpark’s canopy from the right-field foul pole to home plate in recent weeks, and Mike Plant, president of development for the Atlanta Braves, said more lights will be put in place through the next month.
“The rest of those should be going in over the next couple of weeks, as well, so all the LED lighting for the (seating) bowl and the ballpark will all be in,” Plant said.
Once all the lights are installed, the team will start testing them to make sure they are ready for the opening of the Braves’ new stadium in April 2017.
Additionally, a large, light-up tomahawk will be installed in the next few weeks, Plant said. While the new tomahawk will be similar to its counterpart at Turner Field, it will be upgraded, as will many of the elements from the Atlanta stadium making their way north to Cobb County with the team.
As opposed to the neon tomahawk at Turner Field, the new one will be made of LED lights, giving the Braves more flexibility in how it will be used, such as changing its color or the speed that it “chops.”
“It just gives you a lot of creativity,” Plant said, adding the LED lights, the tomahawk, a large light-up rotating “A” and other features will be used in conjunction to celebrate moments on the field, such as wins, home runs and spectacular plays.
The tomahawk, mounted above the main scoreboard at Turner Field, will be installed in right field, Plant said.
Another big development at SunTrust Park in recent weeks is the beginning of the installation of the 41,500 seats that the stadium will house. Plant said the seats are being installed months earlier than originally planned because construction is ahead of schedule.
The seats themselves were ordered and delivered months ago, Plant said, in order to have as little downtime as possible.
“Knowing how aggressive the schedule always was, one of the things that I had to learn a little bit of appreciation for was why they wanted decisions or why they wanted delivery of materials so far in advance of what the schedule called for them,” he said. “And it was because if they keep tracking ahead of schedule, they don’t want to get to a point ever where you basically don’t have materials there and you’re ready to keep going, you’re ready to keep staying in front of it. So you take advantage of those opportunities when you can.”
Hundreds of seats have already been installed and hundreds more will be bolted into place in the coming weeks, but Plant said some of the seats, especially the padded seats connected to the ballpark’s suites and clubs, won’t be installed until around the end of this year and early 2017.
The concrete slabs where the seats closest to the field will be installed are still being put in place, but should be done in the next few weeks, Plant said.
Meanwhile, the 108,000-square-foot metal canopy that will cover about 60 percent of these seats is nearly complete, according to Plant.
“Most of the top exterior part is all installed,” he said. “They’re still installing some of the interior — what’s facing the fans — some of that is still being installed, some of the catwalk of that is still being installed, but I’d say it’s about 70 percent finished, completed.”
Once the canopy, lights and seating bowl are complete, the last crane remaining on the field area will be removed, Plant said. The crane is expected to get wheeled out of the stadium in the next 10 to 14 days, he added.
Inside the stadium, work continues on the walls and ceilings.
“All of the lower-level and the terrace-level suites are all framed,” Plant said. “Most of our offices are framed, clubs are starting to all be framed. And when I say framed, I mean drywall as well, so you’re starting to be able to walk through those spaces and really see definition to the layout and where various rooms are inside those layouts.”
Next door, the mixed-use development is also making significant progress, Plant said. For instance, construction crews are working on the concrete roof for the nine-story office tower that will be solely occupied by Comcast as well as installing glass on the first three floors. Also moving along on schedule is the 16-story hotel, to be run by Omni Hotels & Resorts, as well as the Roxy Theatre standing-room only venue and the restaurant and bar building that will connect to the stadium with a skybridge.