Stadium may host school contests
Events, prep games possible at AAA field

LAWRENCEVILLE - A planned baseball stadium in Lawrenceville won't just be a field of dreams for the minor league Gwinnett Braves. It could also be a playground for youngsters.

When commissioners agreed last week to build the $45 million, 10,000-seat stadium for the Atlanta Braves AAA franchise, they made a point to have 10 days allotted for community activities. Bert Nasuti, the commissioner who lead the baseball campaign, said he wants at least one of those days to be used for high school baseball games.

"I want to get the high schools on the field," Nasuti said.

Mike Emery, the athletics director for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said he is looking forward to the occasion, which may come in a kind of tournament or exhibition or in the form of an all-star game, after the field opens in the spring of 2009.

"It would be a great opportunity for the kids," Emery said. "Hopefully the schools will get some of those days to showcase our players. ... It would be a blast."

Some Gwinnett teams have played at Turner Field in Atlanta, and several athletes have even made it to the Braves stadium as major-league players, including outfielder Jeff Francoeur, a Parkview High School graduate, and All-Star catcher Brian McCann, a Duluth High School graduate.

While the design for the stadium, which will be located on Buford Drive, south of the Mall of Georgia near Rock Springs Road, is in the early stages, Nasuti said he's setting his sights on creating great events for the county's 10 days of use.

In addition to the high school games, Nasuti said another possibility is a University of Georgia vs. Georgia Tech game, or maybe a college tournament.

"I hope we'll plan them for family-friendly and fun events," Nasuti said.