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SunTrust Park to Make College Football Debut


SunTrust Park has had some notable moments in its two seasons as home of the Atlanta Braves, including its first playoff action in October. It is about to see another first, as the ballpark will host a college football game featuring Kennesaw State and Jacksonville State on November 17.

SunTrust Park opened in 2017 as part of a larger project in suburban Cobb County that includes The Battery Atlanta, an adjacent mixed-use development. As a Major League Baseball facility, it has received plenty of acclaim, with one of its honors being the 2017 Ballpark of the Year Award from our sister site, Ballpark Digest.

SunTrust Park has also been used for more than just Braves home games. College baseball has factored into SunTrust Park’s event schedule, concerts have been staged there, and The Battery has provided a gathering place for activities on a year-round basis. College football is therefore the next logical step for the ballpark as it tries to lure more non-baseball events. That will be realized with the November 17 matchup, which pits Georgia’s own Kennesaw State—playing as the home team—against Jacksonville (AL) State.

The game was first announced in June 2017, allowing for plenty of time to prepare for the event. For the layout of the field, the gridiron will run from left field to home plate. As far as seating is concerned, not all levels that are normally used for the Braves will be available—much of the upper level seating and some sections immediately surrounding the field will be closed off.

Once it is played, the game should be significant on a few fronts. It will be the first football game at SunTrust Park, but is unlikely to be the last. The ballpark was designed in order to easily accommodate the occasional football game, so the Braves could make football at SunTrust Park something of a tradition beyond this year. Furthermore, it is the latest entry in a trend that has seen ballparks around MLB include college football in their offseason event calendars. Yankee Stadium and Arizona’s Chase Field host annual bowl games, Boston’s Fenway Park has been used for an increasing number of contests, and Chicago’s Wrigley Field is set to host a game in 2020. The games can not only increase exposure for the programs that participate in them but allow the ballparks to diversify their non-baseball offerings.

The game between Kennesaw State and Jacksonville will begin at 3:00 p.m. eastern on Saturday, November 17. It will be televised on Fox Sports Southeast.

Rendering of SunTrust Park courtesy Kennesaw State University. 

This article first appeared in the weekly Football Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Football Stadium Digest newsletter.

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August Publications