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First 3 Games at First Tennessee Park at Sulphur Dell

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  • First 3 Games at First Tennessee Park at Sulphur Dell

    Three games is a small sample size, but this new ballpark is the polar opposite to the old Sulphur Dell from 1870-1963.

    The old Dell was a left-handed hitter's paradise if they could pull and lift the ball. It was a long poke to left and center. The ball carried well, and you had scores that make Coors Field look like a pitcher's park.

    The ball does not carry at all in this new park. It makes Colt Stadium look like a bandbox. No balls have come close to threatening to leave the park in the first three games. Yesterday in a day game, the wind was blowing out to left, and three hard hit balls looked to be headed more than 400 feet, when they stopped and fell into play for fly outs.

    Hard hit line drives seem to stay up longer too. This park will see many more 2-1 games like yesterday.

    The power alleys and anything other than the two lines and straight center are not marked. It is 330-403-310. From just an estimate, I would guess that the right field fence drops back quickly to 385-390 at a spot between straight right and the power alley. Deep LCF and Deep RCF do not reduce much from straight center. LCF is probably 380 to 385, so you are talking about quite a pop to get the ball out of the park.

    The park is 1000% better than Greer Stadium. I have choice seats--immediately lined up behind home plate and in the second deck in the Club Level. It affords me the chance to see the type of pitch and the location. The Club Level has indoor facilities behind the section, and since there have been rain delays two days in a row, it sure is nice to go inside and sit at a table to watch other baseball or in yesterday's case, the Predators-Black Hawks game.

    Inside, there is a full bar (I do not drink alcohol), a restaurant, bathrooms, suites, and at least a dozen ushers/usherettes to pamper you like your name is "Billy Beane" or "Lew Wolff."

    Every time there was rain, my extremely soft cushioned seat was dried off before I returned. At Greer, you just got wet.

    The field drains exceptionally well, as 1 1/2 inches of water fell in 45 minutes, and the game was only delayed 1:01.

    The first two nights were sellouts, with Friday a SRO event. Sunday's game had 5,700+ with thunderstorms and the Preds game on TV at the same time.

  • #2
    An update to the park through close to 20 home games.

    Watching games at First Tennessee Park at Sulphur Dell is like going back into time. It is perpetually 1968 at Sounds home games now. The ball does not carry at all at night and only a little in the daytime, but it also seems to hold up. So, fly balls and liners do not carry far, but they do not fall quickly.

    There have been shots to right and right center that appear to be headed 420 feet but hang up and barely make it to the warning track. There have been soft to medium liner-fly balls (what Fangraphs call Fliner Liners and Fliner Flies) that look like for sure doubles in the gap, but the outfielders all look like Ron Swoboda in the 1969 World Series. Even average fielders are getting to these balls.

    After 2-1 and 1-0 games, the Sounds actually won 5-1 last night with two home runs, one in the first inning before it was dark. The Las Vegas pitcher last night was tossing batting practice, and the nighttime homer hit in the 6th by Matt Carson looked like a McGwire type blast when it left the bat and looked like it might stay in the park by the time it reached the fence.

    Oh, and the wind was blowing straight out to CF at about 10-12 mph last night. Most nights, the wind blows from home to LF, but still the ball does not carry.


    • #3
      Thanks for the post. I've got my eye on this park and plan to make it down there this summer. I went to old Greer - while i like old parks, let's be honest, that place was a dump.

      G Man


      • #4
        Gman, if you are able to do so, buy club level seats so you can have access to the club. It may be the best place in town to eat dinner and enjoy a cocktail prior to the game.

        Picture this--a nice thick slice of prime rib, asparagus tips, sauteed green beans, and cooked carrots for $12! If you like to add an adult beverage, not just a beer, to that, it is a mere 20 feet away. You can then enjoy your meal in the air conditioned indoor seating area, and then walk out the door to your seat (or watch the game indoors in the club).

        Comparing Greer Stadium to First Tennessee Park at Sulphur Dell is like comparing a dented golf cart to a Rolls Royce.

        I am just old enough to have seen a handful of games at the original Sulphur Dell, when the old Nashville Vols were a Los Angeles Angels affiliate in their final year of existence in 1963.

        This new park is in the same footprint as the old one, but home plate is where the old left field wall was, and the right field foul pole is about where home plate was in 1963.

        The old Dell was a left-handed power hitter's paradise, especially if the lefty played golf. It was a pitching wedge shot to hit it out of the old park.

        Greer Stadium went from fair to pitcher's park over the years. The dimensions hardly changed, so something else happened between 1978 and 2014, when Greer closed.

        The difference in the two Sulphur Dell's are even greater. The average batting average in original Dell history was probably .285 to .290 with many years over .300.

        This park will be lucky to have a .250 net batting average. Pitching has looked much better than it is, because the same pitchers don't come close to matching their performances on the road as they do here. Getting behind 2-0 here is almost insurmountable.

        The problem is that the A's are not looking to cultivate small ball stars. It is all about OBP and SLG. The sacrifice bunt, base stealing, and all the small ball components are strictly verboten in the organization. Thus, you have a team ill-prepared to enjoy home field advantage. Waiting for the big inning in this park is like waiting for your lottery number to win. You know it is possible and may be the only way to ever make it big, but you know that you are smarter to just try to make a couple hundred bucks a day and be happy with it.

        Earlier this year, Oklahoma City came in here and showed everybody how it is done. They won with bunting, stealing, and great pitching, just like the 1960's Dodgers. It was classic small ball. Too bad, the Dodgers chose OKC instead of Nashville, because when the old Nashville Vols were dominating in the 1940's, they were a farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

        It would also go with the motif to have the Dodgers here, because as of this week, the park is now located on the newly named Junior Gilliam Way.


        • #5
          Awesome post. Thanks for the info. Looking forward to visiting the new park and will surely provide an update here when i do.

          G Man


          • #6
            I went about a month ago. Great sightlines, too bad the park cannot add any mezzanine seats to expand if/when the time comes
            World Champions: 1919, 1940, 1975, 1976, 1990
            NL Champions: 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1990
            NL Western Division Champions: 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, *1981, 1990
            NL Central Division Champions: *1994, 1995, 2010, 2012


            • #7
              2017 Update--The park just gets better and better. The one negative had been the very close stands that led to about 25 fan injuries the first year. Last year, they added netting from dugout to dugout, and it reduced the injuries down to a handful. There has been one real injury this year when a foul ball hit in the upper level and then bounced down to the lower level and hit a woman square on the head.

              The recent home series of 8 games was a bit odd. I think more folks showed up to the Club and the right field pavilion to drink and watch the Predators on the large screen TVs. It was not fair to dear old Joey Wendle to strike out when he was fulled on Uncle Charlie, and then hear about 3,000 fans yell and scream like he had just hit a ball 562 feet. It coincided with the Preds scoring the decisive goal to oust St. Louis from the playoffs and put Nashville in the Western Conference finals. If the Preds make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, I imagine FTP will be Bridgetone Arena Annex.

              If you are planning a trip to Nashville, and about half the world seems to be doing so these days, FTP is a great place to watch baseball. The ball carries a little better these days, but I have no idea why. An old warehouse past left field did burn down earlier this year, but I cannot imagine that affects the ball 600 to 700 feet away.

              Without being a pig, the female employees this year are really smashing hot babes. If you are lucky, you will receive your ticket at Will Call from the brunette that drinks the spa water. She looks straight out of Maxim.


              • #8
                Went to a game there in May when i was in town for the marathon and i like the stadium. However it is one expensive ticket to get into. I have gotten cheaper tickets for a major league game.


                • #9
                  Chicago30, the entire city is too expensive. When you can buy stuff cheaper in NYC and San Francisco than you can in Nashville, then the price of $36 for a club level seat isn't that big of a deal. To give you a comparison, I rented out a condo in August. It is near Lipscomb University in the Green Hills area of town. It is 1,000 square feet with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. I am getting $1,800 a month for this no frills condo, and when I advertised it, I had about two dozen people call the first few hours after people knew it was available. I rented it out the first day it was advertised, and others have told me I under-priced it, considering I am allowing the four girls renting it to have pets.

                  That is the problem when your town becomes the "It" city. The way things are going, the Dodgers need to move to Nashville, because it is like 20% of their season ticket holders of 1995 have moved here, along with half of the former Cubs and White Sox ticket holders. We gain 100 new people a day, mostly from California, Illinois, New York, but from all over, even Texas and Arizona. In fact, I was told that the Sounds did a survey to gauge how much support there would be for becoming an affiliate of the Rangers, and when it turned out there are a lot of baseball fan transplants from the Lone Star State. It's ironic, because Tennesseans were behind statehood for Texas. Sam Houston was a Tennessean.


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