After only three seasons of operation as SunTrust Park, the Braves’ stadium got a new name Tuesday: Truist Park.
The Braves and Truist, the bank formed by the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, made the unsurprising announcement during a news conference at the stadium.
By the Braves’ home opener April 3, some Truist Park signs will prominently adorn the ballpark, although Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller acknowledged that not all of the 150 or so SunTrust Park signs will be removed and replaced by then.
“It’s a rather complex transition going from one name of a ballpark to another name,” he said.
The stadium's new name represents a continuation of the Braves' lucrative 25-year naming rights contract with SunTrust, now Truist. Schiller had told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month that the new name would be "Truist something," leaving only the question of whether it would be Truist Park or a slight variation thereof.
Variations such as Truist Field, Truist Stadium and the like were considered, Braves and Truist executives said in interviews Tuesday.
“We ended up looking at a whole range of different combinations of words in association with Truist,” Schiller said. “But ultimately, we kept going back to the fact that this is a ballpark first and foremost, and having the term ‘Park’ in the name seemed to be very natural.
“We’ve got well over 20 years left in this (naming rights) relationship, and Truist Park is the name we think works best,” Schiller said.
Susan Somersille Johnson, Truist’s chief marketing officer, said: “‘Park’ suggests family and fun and relationships, and that is why we originally named it SunTrust Park. It fits with what we’re trying to do here.”
The naming-rights deal began with the stadium's 2017 opening, runs until 2042 and is believed to pay the Braves an average of about $10 million per year. The original deal included provisions for changing the name in circumstances such as a corporate merger. The Braves had approval rights over the stadium's new name, Schiller said.
Some fans had called for the stadium to be renamed in honor of Braves legend Hank Aaron. That would have required the Braves to walk away from, or significantly renegotiate, the naming-rights deal. While that didn’t happen, Truist said that over the next 10 years it will refurbish one youth baseball field per year in metro Atlanta and rename each after Aaron.
“I think that is a terrific way to continue to celebrate Hank and still have the corporate relationship we have now with Truist,” Schiller said.
Name changes for pro sports stadiums are increasingly common. In 2018, for example, Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta became State Farm Arena. But it is rare for a venue as young as the Braves’ stadium to undergo a name change.
Immediately after Tuesday’s 11 a.m. announcement, the Braves began taking steps to activate the new name, including making changes to the team’s website. But some of the larger re-branding measures will take months, stretching well into the 2020 season.
“Some of the key signage, including at the top of the video board and behind home plate, will be changed by opening day,” Schiller said. But replacing the large exterior blue-and-orange “SunTrust Park” signage on the ballpark’s canopy “is more complex” and probably won’t be done by then, he said.
The exact design of the stadium’s new signs remains a work in progress. Current renderings show the signs atop the center-field video board and exterior canopy will feature the “Truist Park” name in white letters, with the new Truist logo placed between the words. The white letters will be outlined in purple, the bank’s primary marketing color.
“We’re still working through all of the signage and how it’s going to show up ... during the day and at night,” said Donta’ Wilson, Truist’s chief digital and client experience officer.
Truist executives expect the prominence of the Braves’ stadium to prove valuable in the bank’s rebranding.
“We’re just beginning a long process of helping clients understand what Truist is about, recognize Truist,” Johnson said. “Having the type of visibility of Truist Park with the Atlanta Braves is a tremendous boost and accelerator.”
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