A big change looms for SunTrust Park – a new name – but it won’t happen this season.
“We have been told by SunTrust that there is not going to be a name change during the course of this season,” Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller said. “The announcement of when they would change the name has not been revealed to us, other than we know for the 2019 season it will remain SunTrust Park.
“We will market it as SunTrust Park and operate it in the same way (as the past two seasons) without any restrictions during the course of the year.”
SunTrust’s pending merger with BB&T, announced last month, will result in a new and not-yet-determined name for the combined banks, the companies have said. That will lead to a new name for the Braves stadium, although the 25-year naming-rights contract will remain in place.
The contract “contemplates there can be changes during the course of a long agreement to the name SunTrust,” Schiller said. “We’d be the first to tell you we didn’t contemplate that (becoming an issue) in the first couple of years of the ballpark, but regardless, the legal agreement has language that makes it such that both parties know what they need to do to deal with change.”
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Changing the name ultimately will be an extensive and expensive matter, with much signage to be replaced inside and outside the stadium. But for this season, the blue and orange SunTrust Park signs will remain on the Braves’ home, which opened in 2017.
There will be other changes in and around the stadium for its third season, however. Here’s a preview:
FIVE CHANGES INSIDE STADIUM
1. SunTrust Park’s deep lineup of hospitality spaces is getting an addition: an area beyond the outfield (under the video board, extending back toward the kids’ play zone). A roof will be completed by May atop this open space, which will be used this season primarily for pregame group functions. New food and bar areas will be added to the space in 2020, Schiller said.
2. The Braves will wear red jerseys for Friday home games this season and will call on fans to wear red to those games as well.
3. The field was stripped to the dirt and re-sodded with the same type of grass, paspalum, as before. The re-sod stemmed in part, Schiller said, from the two football games played on the field since the end of last baseball season (a Kennesaw State game in November and a celebrity flag football game during Super Bowl weekend).
4. Local and regional artists have been enlisted to create posters, described by Schiller as reminiscent of “old-school promotional posters,” for each home series. Prints will be for sale in the stadium ($25).
5. SunTrust Park has expanded its equipment for accepting mobile payments, as well as credit and debit cards, but doesn’t plan to stop accepting cash, as Mercedes-Benz Stadium has done. “We have studied the marketplace, but we don’t believe a cashless environment is the best thing for us for our fans at this moment in time,” Schiller said.
FIVE CHANGES OUTSIDE STADIUM
1. Several new shops have opened since the end of last season in The Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development adjacent to SunTrust Park, including outdoor gear and clothing retailer Rock/Creek and record store Waterloo Sunset.
2. H&F Burger, previously located inside the ballpark, has moved to a larger (and year-round) location just off the plaza that connects the stadium to The Battery.
3. The Terrapin Taproom, located just outside the right-field gate, is in the process of expanding, including the addition of a plaza-facing bar. A new exterior stairway will provide easier access to the second floor.
4. A cigar lounge (BURN by Rocky Patel) and an adventure venue (The Escape Game) are scheduled to open soon in The Battery.
5. You’ll notice a lot of new construction activity. On a portion of The Battery abutting Cobb Parkway, work is underway to add a Silverspot Cinema, specialty grocer Savi Provisions, a 140-room Aloft Hotel and additional retail and office space, all scheduled to open in 2020. Across Circle 75 Parkway, the Braves have broken ground on what will become the North American headquarters of Thyssenkrupp Elevators, slated to open in 2021 and to include a 420-foot-tall elevator test tower.
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