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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

CoolToday Park – Atlanta Braves Spring Training


Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

CoolToday Park 18800 South, W Villages Pkwy Venice, FL 34293

Year Opened: 2019 Capacity: 8,000

 

The Braves New World


CoolToday Park opened in 2019 as the new spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. However, the stadium only hosted the last spring training game at the park in 2019. The spring training games with fans in the stands were wiped out by the pandemic in 2020-2021 and the lockout in 2022, so the 2023 season is only the second opportunity to see a Braves game in person at Cool Today.


The stadium’s location is shown as North Port, which is actually a suburb of Venice, FL. The stadium has 6,300 seats, but it has a berm capacity of 1,800 people, bringing total capacity to 8,000 fans. The field has dimensions of Left Field: 335 feet; Center Field: 400 feet; Right Field: 325 feet.


Food & Beverage 3

The food and beverage selection at CoolToday Park is both delicious and varied in selection. While most ballparks feature just the standard, safe staples, CoolToday Park explores some unusual offerings.


We start with the Tomahawk Tiki Bar (I know… politically incorrect!) along the left field foul line at the venue. It offers burgers ($14), tacos ($14), subs, sandwiches, po boys ($14), quesadillas ($14), and salads ($10). It opens to the public on non-event days for Happy Hours from 11am to 4pm, with $3 Bud Lights, Michelob Ultra, and $5 craft beers. We did not say it was cheap. It is a Tiki Bar…. Drink a few $3 beers and you will not feel the pain in your pocketbook for a few days!


The variety of foods comes with the other concession stand offerings. Along the third baseline is the Florida Fish Camp. It features fried fish with hushpuppies and fries and is served in a tackle box for $12. Other items on the Fish Camp menu are shrimp and conch fritters. The Chicken Coop offers both fried and grilled chicken plates, which include fried pickles and boom boom sauce for $10. Atlanta’s own Chick-fil-A is also on-site, selling its specialty at the same price as any of its retail stores…. and never on Sundays!


Other stands along the concourse are Salsa Supreme, Dawg’s N Burgers (please note: there is only one way to spell “dog” in Georgia!), Sausage Shack, and Greenfield’s Ice Cream. Oh, if you still have a desire for another drink… there is a Landshark Landing on the first base side of the stadium.


We rate the quality and variety of food and beverages at CoolToday Park very highly. Unfortunately, we find the prices charged for food and drinks to be extremely expensive.


Atmosphere 5

You begin to enjoy the atmosphere at CoolToday Park before you even enter the ballpark. The exterior skin of the stadium features large murals featuring the team logo as well as photos of Braves elites Bobby Cox, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Tom Glavine, Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz. These players are also recognized with their numbers on display on the plaza outside the park. It makes for a great selfie location.


Once inside the park, the first two things you will notice are its openness and the 360-degree concourse. The concourse is open on the field side so you will not miss any of the action on the field while you are away from your seat. This openness also allows the breeze in the area to keep you cool throughout the game. The 360-degree concourse allows you to travel to all the different concession stands and the opportunity to check out the action on the field from different angles.


The stadium has two levels of seating. A majority of the stadium bowl is below the concourse level, bringing the fans very close to the action. An upper level (known as the Terrace level) offers suites and very limited single seats at a premium charge. These seat locations have air conditioning and controlled access to a bar and the Smokehouse BBQ restaurant.


CoolToday Park offers a state-of-the-art electronics package. This includes a video board in left-center field, three LED boards along the concourse and TV’s along the concourse so that you will not miss any of the action during visits to the concession stand.



Neighborhood 2

The Braves are the owners and developers of CoolToday Park. The plan was to develop the property around the stadium for retail, restaurants, and possibly some hotels. This would be in keeping with their very profitable Battery development adjoining Truist Park in Atlanta.


These plans have been unproductive thus far, due in part to the pandemic and the slowing down of the economy. There is some thought that the absence of a Florida State League team to occupy the stadium after the Braves return to Atlanta for the regular season has been a factor in the situation.


The only restaurant in the area at this time is JoJo’s Stadium Café and Pub, which is located on Tamiami Trail just before the intersection with South West Village Parkway. Its motif features the Brave's red and blue colors, with plenty of Braves memorabilia on display. The closest lodging to the stadium is at exit 191 of I-75, or in Venice, FL along the Gulf Coast.


Fans 4

The Braves have always drawn well at their spring training locations going all the way back to their days at West Palm Beach. This dates back to being the first MLB team in the Deep South, and to their days as “America’s Team” on Superstation 17. Former Braves owner Ted Turner was a pioneer in Cable TV, and telecasting his team’s games to the entire country was a cheap way to fill air time and create a fan following in the South. The fans soon were coming to Braves games at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field, both of which were located along I-75. So it only follows that those Braves fans would travel just a few hundred miles further south on I-75 to see Spring Training games and enjoy the Florida weather.


The Braves recent string of Division Championships, appearances in the World Series, and a World Series Championship in 2021 have only strengthened and enlarged the Braves Nation.


Although politically incorrect for many, the Braves fans continue to perform the Tomahawk Chop when the Braves are in scoring position, despite the best efforts of the team.


Access 3

CoolToday Stadium is easily accessed from exit 191 (River Road) off of 1-75.


Once you arrive at the stadium there are 1,000 parking spaces, many of which are designated for disabled persons. There are bicycle racks outside of the park for those who prefer this alternative form of transportation.


There are three entry gates to CoolToday Stadium. Gate 1 will bring you in on the first base side of the stadium. Gate 2 brings you in on the third base side of the stadium. Gate 3 brings you in at the Tomahawk Tiki Bar, which is also open for business when there is no game scheduled.


The closest airport to CoolToday Park is the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. It offers direct flights from Atlanta, but few connecting flights. The Tampa International Airport is the next closest airport and offers many more connecting flights.


Gates open a full two hours before the first pitch. This allows fans plenty of time to check out the various concession stands and the team store before going to their seats.


Once inside of CoolToday Park, the accessibility is excellent. The park was built well after the Americans with a Disability Act was passed, so the park meets, and most often exceeds ADA Requirements. There are shuttles which come out to your parking space to the stadium and return you after the games. Elevators are available to get you to any level of the park. The concourses are wide and easy to negotiate, and there is plenty of designated wheelchair-viewing seats along the concourses.


Return on Investment 3

Tickets to Braves spring training games are available at several price points. They include tickets behind the plate at $60; behind the dugouts cost $55; tickets down the foul lines beyond the infield at the lower level for $50 and tickets in the upper (also known as Terrace level) at $45. The least expensive seats at CoolToday Park are the bleacher seats in the Truist Pavilion high above deep center field at $34, and the space on the grass berm in left field for $20. However, many fans purchase the least expensive ticket and station themselves along the drink rails along the concourse, which encircle the entire field, for the whole game.


The Braves have built the parking fee into the ticket prices so you will not have to pay an additional fee to park when you arrive at the park for a game. CoolToday Park has more than 1,000 parking spaces.


Food prices are very expensive compared to their true cost and value. This brings this segment of our stadium ratings well down from any other segment.


Extras 5

The Braves played both Team Puerto Rico and Team Dominican Republic at CoolToday Park in 2023 as part of the World Baseball Classic.


CoolToday Park was very close to the path of Hurricane Ian. However, it sustained much less damage than its sister Grapefruit League stadiums in Port Charlotte and in Ft. Myers. Repairs were completed at CoolToday Park well in advance of the 2023 Spring Training season.


In the offseason, the ballpark hosted a Jingle Jam celebration during the Christmas holidays. The Jingle Jam included a 5 K run, a holiday market, carnival games, and a tree lighting ceremony.


CoolToday Park also hosted several Big Ten baseball games and the Mizuno College Invitational Tournament.

The Braves spring training complex adjoining the stadium offers six major league sized practice fields. Fans are welcome to watch the action on these fields at no cost.


Final Thoughts

The Braves are once again serving as the developers for their home stadium, as the plans are to build hotels, restaurants, and shops in the empty lots that adjoin the CoolToday venue. Revenues from these businesses will be added to the Braves bottom line for use when they need to resign current players or go after free agents.


The graphics package that covers the stadium exterior is unlike any other stadium in the Grapefruit League. It cements the Braves brand in people's minds, much as its days when former owner Ted Turner’s early cable TV network introduced them to the country as America’s baseball team in the 1970s.

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