Ballpark buzz
Officials break ground on Gwinnett Braves stadium

LAWRENCEVILLE - When Gwinnett's baseball stadium opens next April, 13-year-old Jonathan Moses and his twin sister, Emily, plan to walk from their home to watch some ball games.

The Creekland Middle School students attended the stadium's groundbreaking Tuesday to get a behind-the-scenes look at what will be the home of the Gwinnett Braves.

"When we found out about the stadium, we were really excited," Emily said.

Jonathan said he's looking forward to the action of the games. Emily, however, said she's hoping to see people such as Atlanta Braves player Jeff Francoeur hanging around.

Francoeur, a Parkview graduate, said the Gwinnett stadium's size will give children the chance to get up close to the players.

"Growing up in Gwinnett, I'm excited to see everyone here and to have the chance to bring my family out here," he said. "The county's great for supporting it (baseball)."

The stadium, located on Buford Drive between Old Peachtree Road and Rock Springs Road, will have a capacity of 10,099 seats, including 2,300 seats on a lawn behind the outfield.

The area surrounding the stadium is still under heavy construction, but the field itself is beginning to take shape. The playing surface is fully hydro-seeded with grass, except for the basepaths and the infield. The outfield berm, expected to seat a large number of fans, also has been shaped to slope down toward the outfield wall.

Gwinnett County officials said they hope the stadium will provide plenty of family-friendly recreation in the years to come.

"Everyone loves baseball," said Bert Nasuti, the county commissioner who worked to bring the Class AAA baseball team to Gwinnett. "Baseball is a lot of things to a lot of people, but it's about families and it's about memories."

Randy Mobley, the president of the International League, said Gwinnettians won't be disappointed with the stadium.

"The memories you all are going to create here are going to be too numerous to remember, but it's something that's going to be a fantastic, fantastic addition to the community," he said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said he thinks the arrival of minor league baseball is one of the biggest things that can happen in the county.

"It's summertime and school's out," he said. "This time next year, we'll be playing baseball."

Sports Editor Will Hammock contributed to this report.