A home run for fans, businesses as Braves beat Philly in home opener at Truist Park

ATLANTA — It was the day Atlanta Braves fans had been waiting 18 months for – the first home opener since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic where fans could be in the stands.

The Braves took on the Philadelphia Phillies Friday night, beating them 8-1.

It was also the first Braves game that spectators were allowed at since the ball field had been renamed Truist Park.

The last ballgame that spectators were allowed to watch inside the stadium was in 2019.

The evening was not only a home run for fans but also for the businesses in The Battery.

The reigning NL East Champions started their first homestand with limited capacity. Only about 13,000 fans were allowed inside Truist Park for Friday night’s game.

Fans were not only required to wear masks, but they also had to sit in pods to increase social distancing.

Still, baseball is back, and fans are ecstatic.

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“Last time we were here, like you said, 2019, so we didn’t know when we were going to get to come back. So we are just thrilled to be here,” said Greg Buckley, who drove in from Chattanooga for the game.

“It would be the loudest 13,000 people you’ve probably ever heard,” Braves fan Matthew Sims said.

That excitement could be seen and felt outside the ballpark as Braves fans packed The Battery. Friday night was a home run for so many local businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

“We love baseball. We love the team. We love to support it,” said Alisa Fuchs of Conyers.

She told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden about their family tradition.

“It is an annual tradition for my husband and I to bring our boys to opening day. We’ve been doing this for 12 years. Of course, we missed last year, so we weren’t going to miss this year for anything.”

There’s nothing like the sights and sounds of a big-league game.

Officials for Truist Park said the ballpark will be expanding capacity in the coming days.

Full capacity at Truist park is 41,000. Right now, the Braves are limiting attendance to 33% or about 13,000.

The Braves are planning on increasing capacity to 50% for their second homestand on April 23, which is still contingent on the pandemic.

Either way, many fans are hoping for a packed house come the playoffs.