Ribbon cut on stadium

LAWRENCEVILLE - They didn't play ball yet, but officials cut a ribbon on the new Gwinnett County Stadium.

More than 1,000 people came out for the Easter Sunday event, where commissioners and members of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau congratulated each other for the stadium's completion just 15 months after a deal with the Atlanta Braves was struck to host the team's Triple-A affiliate.

"I've heard so many compliments about the quality of the design, the materials and the construction of our new home for baseball," Gwinnett Chairman Charles Bannister said about the $64 million stadium. "We all recognized that this facility will serve our community for many decades, so we really worked to make sure it was done right. I think you'll agree that the results speak for themselves."

Commissioner Bert Nasuti pitched the idea for a minor-league stadium during a planning retreat in late 2007. A year later, the deal with the Braves was announced, and county officials bought land on Buford Drive. Less than a year ago, construction began on the 10,000-seat facility.

"I know that Gwinnett families will make many memories at this ballpark for years to come," Nasuti said. "And I know that we, as a community, will be glad we built the stadium - not only for the entertainment value, but also for the economic value of the jobs and the dollars it will bring. This is a great day in the history of Gwinnett County, in the history of professional baseball, and in the history of our lives together in this community."

The minor-league team kicked off its season with a road trip, but will return for the first home game Friday, where grand opening festivities will begin at 6 p.m.

Photo: David McGregor. Gwinnett County Commissioners (L to R) Shirley Fanning Lasseter, Kevin Kenerly, Mike Beaudreau, and Bert Nasuti signal the opening of the new Gwinnett Stadium with an offical ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday afternoon in Lawrenceville.

Photo: David McGregor. (L to R) Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Fanning Lasseter shares a laugh with fellow commissioners Kevin Kenerly and Mike Beaudreau during the offical ribbon cutting ceremonies for the Gwinnett Stadium in Lawrenceville Sunday afternoon.