Braves lay first bricks at SunTrust Park

Aaron, Freeman take part in ceremony, help bury time capsules

Braves lay first bricks at SunTrust Park

ATLANTA -- Hank Aaron and Freddie Freeman were among those at SunTrust Park on Thursday morning to ceremonially lay the first bricks that will be used to build the Braves' new state-of-the-art stadium that is set to open at the start of the 2017 season.

"As a little boy, I knew a little bit about laying bricks, I knew how to hold them," the 81-year-old Aaron said before laying his brick alongside the other decorative ones used in this ceremony that was staged in the upper portion of the stadium's construction.

Along with Aaron and Freeman, the Braves welcomed Eustis Morris to participate in the ceremony. Morris helped build Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and he is also credited with laying both the first and last brick at Olympic Stadium, which was transformed into Turner Field before the 1997 season.

"It's a great day," Braves CEO Terry McGuirk said. "We're going to have 800,000 bricks on the exterior of this ballpark. To lay the first ones today is sort of the next chapter in the completion of getting it finally done."

McGuirk and other Braves executives have taken great pride as they have sat in their offices across the street from the construction site and watched the evolution of the new stadium, which will serve as the anchor of a mixed-used development site that will include retail outlets, restaurants, entertainment venues, residential properties and an Omni Hotel.

"It's the newest, most modern and most advanced ballpark in Major League Baseball," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "It's the last one coming out of the ground. Because of that, we have advancements in technology and design and interesting aspects that the fans will see when we open up. That makes it exciting."

The Braves originally planned to move into their new offices at the new stadium in January 2017. But it now looks like they will do so in November 2016.

Along with laying the ceremonial first bricks, the Braves also buried two time capsules on Thursday morning to provide future generations a chance to better understand some of the thoughts that influenced the construction of this stadium and the mixed-used development site, which will be aimed toward attracting consumers on a year-round basis.

"We don't come over and get on this [construction site] too often. Most of the time, we're looking down from the eighth floor of our preview center across the street," McGuirk said. "Just to be here gives us a touchstone of how big and important and how far along this is."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.