In this ALSD Conference sneak peek, Jeremy Strife, GM of The Battery Atlanta, previews some real estate best practices to assist sports and entertainment venues building or considering adjacent mixed-use developments.
A project always envisioned as more than just a baseball stadium, The Battery Atlanta mixed-use development envelops the one-year-old SunTrust Park, home of the Braves, with a multitude of restaurants, retail shops, residential units, corporate office spaces, the Coca-Cola Roxy music venue, and an Omni hotel.
A true lifestyle and entertainment complex, The Battery has everything visitors and residents could want within a stone’s throw, including space activated year-round with special events. All of these experiences promise a good time, but also required meticulous planning from the inception.
Enter Jeremy Strife, the Senior Vice President of Braves Development Company and General Manager of The Battery Atlanta. His experience in real estate development and property management, coupled with his education in public affairs law and business management, gives him a unique mix of expertise for this type of project, to be exemplified during "The Impact of an Entertainment District" session at the upcoming ALSD Conference and Tradeshow.
Please enjoy this transcript of our recent interview with Jeremy, which has been lightly edited for clarity.
Tell us about your background and how your previous experience helped create The Battery Atlanta.
Prior to joining the Braves, I was with Simon Property Group in various asset management roles that focused on new construction, redevelopments, acquisitions, and repositioning of projects throughout the country.
Those experiences prepared me for being able to position our development team on the best path to success, considering the dynamic variables we had in front of us like the shortened development period, complexity of our internal structure, and task of developing a one-of-a-kind, mixed-use experience, providing the best professional sports experience in the country.
With many teams considering entertainment districts as part of venue development projects, what stakeholders need to be present at the design table to ensure success for these emerging projects?
There is certainly an industry shift happening, where we are seeing the fan experience becoming more multidimensional and extending beyond a sport’s particular season schedule. These projects are creating a new platform for incredible brands to reach their fans and communities 365 days a year in ways that are broadening the overall guest experience and providing new business opportunities for partners to evolve their messaging, products, and brand experiences.
“These projects are creating a new platform for incredible brands to reach their fans and communities 365 days a year in ways that are broadening the overall guest experience and providing new business opportunities.”
– Jeremy Strife, The Battery Atlanta
For these types of complex projects, it is imperative to maintain focus on creating and executing your brand’s unique story. Not only from a perspective of how all of these elements are going to interact to benefit our guests. It is just as important to ask why these elements have been established as priorities.
Answering those questions takes a concerted effort from all fronts. Certainly, the storytelling begins with your master plan and architecture as the backdrop, which sets the tone for execution of the brands’ overall goals: Is it to be experiential, more provincial? Is it meant to unlock a previously underserved market, or to better serve an existing and vibrant community?
Typically, the answer lies in a combination of all of these things, and you need your best brand representatives from all groups participating in developing the overall experience from development, to marketing, to sales, to IT, and certainly your internal groups like your financial and legal teams to ensure that your enterprise has all of the tools necessary to execute the vision long-term and consistently deliver the best quality product to the market.
What was the vision for The Battery Atlanta?
The Battery Atlanta was master planned to be a dynamic, 365-day-a-year, experiential, mixed-use project, designed to excite all types of visitors from fans, to retail guests, foodies, daily office workers, hotel guests, and anyone seeking a safe, clean, best-in-class entertainment experience.
What are some of the specific best-in-class entertainment experiences in The Battery?
The Battery Atlanta represents the gathering space for all of Braves country to enjoy family-friendly, first-to-market programming like the Xfinity Movie Series, one of the many global acts at the Coca-Cola Roxy, a four-star experience at the Omni hotel, a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Bash, a Holiday Tree Lighting, and hundreds of other days of activation made possible by the mutual partnerships enjoyed by The Battery Atlanta and the Braves.
How do all of these entertainment options co-exist in the same ecosystem? Do any of them compete for clientele?
Both SunTrust Park and the entire campus of The Battery Atlanta were purposefully master planned to combine several distinct experiential areas, clubs, restaurants, meeting spaces, etc., which serve all guests with a variety of different options for their particular needs that complement, not compete, with each other.
“Start with understanding the story you want to tell, who you are telling it to, and set priorities when creating your own unique environment to deliver the message.”
– Jeremy Strife, The Battery Atlanta
How do the Braves leverage all that The Battery has to offer?
The Battery Atlanta needs to enhance the fan experience on gamedays but thrive on its own every other day of the year.
For the fans, there are several options for them to enjoy before and after a game. On gamedays, the team programs the unique space that sits between the ballpark and development with entertainment.
On non-gamedays, that same space is utilized with things like cornhole leagues and special events that can be branded around the team and extend team activities 365 days.
It has given the Braves a place for their fans to spend more time “on campus”, a year-round branding and activation opportunity they didn’t have in the past, and it has given the team an additional revenue stream.
For those team and venue development teams considering a similar project, what are the top-three things you would recommend to them to replicate your success in The Battery?
- Start with understanding the story you want to tell, who you are telling it to, and set priorities when creating your own unique environment to deliver the message.
- Surround yourself with a group of professionals who challenge existing conditions while maintaining primary focus on executing the long-term vision.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. If an element doesn’t currently exist to fully satisfy a core goal, find a way to create it.
Learn more about these strategies behind The Battery Atlanta from Jeremy Strife and other real estate thought leaders during “The Impact of an Entertainment District” session at the 5th Annual Sports Venue Design & Build Forum, held as part of the 2018 ALSD Conference and Tradeshow, June 24th-27th at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.