G-Braves move up weekday start times

In this file photo, fans fill Coolray Field for a Gwinnett Braves game.

In this file photo, fans fill Coolray Field for a Gwinnett Braves game.

In an effort to bolster disappointing attendance, particularly in the middle of the week, the Gwinnett Braves moved their start times next season up one hour to 6 p.m. for most of their Monday though Thursday games.

It's a change designed to appeal to the group the G-Braves see as their biggest audience, regionally based families with younger children, who may not be able to stay up past 10 p.m. on a week night, especially during the school year.

"We've looked at every conceivable option to make (our games) more appealing to our fans," Gwinnett Braves General Manager North Johnson said. "It was just based on looking at who our fans are and trying to make it as convenient and appealing for them as we possibly can."

Since opening to a sell-out crowd in 2009, the G-Braves have consistently drawn less than half of Coolray Field's 10,000-seat capacity, foundering among the bottom three in attendance in the International League. Last season, they averaged 4,680 per game, third worst in the league and lowest since the team moved to Gwinnett.

With a slate of mostly 7 p.m. start times a season ago, games typically ended close to 10 p.m., and Johnson said the organization hopes the difference of getting families home by 9:30 rather than 10:30 will remove a hurdle. The average fan, according to Johnson, arrives at a G-Braves game about 15 minutes before to 10 minutes after the scheduled first pitch.

"There doesn't seem to be an innate sense of being there for first pitch," Johnson said, noting that people in limited surveys acknowledged a desire to be there for the final out.

The change impacts nearly every weekday G-Braves game. Friday and Saturday games will still start at 7 p.m. and Sunday games will follow the same schedule as last year, beginning at 2 p.m. through June and 5 p.m. in July and August.

"We feel like from the fact that most of the ballpark is in the shade by 5, it makes it much more enjoyable to come out," Johnson said of the Sunday time change made last year.

The G-Braves open the season at home against Charlotte on Thursday, April 4. That game, ironically, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. for opening day.


dentaldawg83 2 years, 10 months ago

LOL! it ain't the starting time folks. Maybe, using the families with young children example, it's just too darned expensive: $5 parking (free at the Arena) and over priced,below average concessions ($7 beer.. seriously?!?!?) along with a team that gets blown out on a weekly basis is more the problem. Not to mention the bad agreement forced onto the county still has some folks angry.


Mack711 2 years, 10 months ago

The starting time is not the problem. If you want more fans in the stands then get a constant winning team on the field. When the Braves were in the old stadium you could go to there and get box seats up until game time, reason not a winning team. Durin their 14 year winning streak you could not buy a ticket, that should tell you something. Yes the concsession prices are Major League prices for a minor league team. Get real. We went one time the only reason was we were given the tickets. Will not go back until they play better ball. As for Gwinnett paying the bills for the stadium that was a bad deal all the way around. Thanks Charlie and Kennerly.


LawrencevilleGreg 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree as far as the concession prices being too high, but complaining about putting a good team on the field?! The G Braves have had plenty of high talent guys take the field. I still remember Heyward's first AB in a G Braves uniform. The minor leagues is about prospects and not teams. Players move up and down throughout the system yearly. The problem is many people are choosing to go downtown to Atlanta over staying in Gwinnett to watch baseball.


apsLilburn 2 years, 10 months ago

It makes no difference what time they start games. They way the county rammed this stadium and its' debt down our throat, I will NEVER attend any event at this place.


RustyC 2 years, 10 months ago

I like the idea of an earlier start time and we will continue going to the games. Yeah, the concession prices are high so we just eat before we get there. Maybe a Coke during the game but that's about it. To get to see the game up close is a lot of fun. To watch these future stars and stars in rehab is great. The people that work there are always nice and that adds to the experience. If you want to complain about the debt or prices, I understand. We just love the Braves and Braves baseball.


citized 2 years, 10 months ago

Lets not forget about INCREASE traffic


FordGalaxy 2 years, 10 months ago

So, earlier start times for a stadium located on Hwy 20, with however many thousands of fans trying to get there during the tail end of rush hour traffic? Yeah, this is sure to end well.

As others have said, the start time is not the problem. The team has just not been good. Now, it's a minor league team, so they don't have the roster freedom that a major league team has. The G-Braves are restricted by the product that the big club down the road gives them. Same goes for the Gwinnett Gladiators. But the Glads know how to win.

And as has also been pointed out, there is no charge for parking at Gwinnett Arena. Frankly, hockey is far more exciting than baseball, plus it is climate controlled.


Don 2 years, 10 months ago

So now the working folks can not get to the game by starting time with all the traffic in this city.

Hey why do you not try some concepts like other minor league teams do? Dollar dog night (hotdogs), thirsty Thursdays etc.

If there was a tomato throwing contest that had Kennerly and Bannister as the targets if would be standing room only.

Thanks for the bill!


SuxBeanU 2 years, 10 months ago

I have to agree with other posters, it's not the start time, it's the product. put a winning team together and see the results.I live less than a mile away and they won't get my money until they put a winning team on the field.It just isn't any fun watching the home team getting blown out due to poor pitching and no hitting.What is so hard to understand? the whole idea of putting this team in this market is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. If I want to see baseball I'll go downtown and watch major league ball.


Sign in to comment