Corporate sponsors are a necessary evil in today’s baseball landscape. While a lot of people (okay, most people) would prefer to not have to deal with commercials, ads, and branding stuffs and instead enjoy ingesting baseball without getting trolled by Louisiana Hot Sauce ads or cutting away for a commercial break every time there is a brief pause in the game, teams have to pay the bills and make it worthwhile so we instead have to put up with those inconveniences.
Stadium names are not immune to this. Sure, there are historic stadiums like Fenway, Yankee Stadium and Wrigley that retain their historic/clean monikers, but for the most part, we are seeing the naming rights for stadiums going to the highest bidder these days. Just look at some of these names around the league.
Guaranteed Rate Field
Minute Maid Park
Not exactly inspiring any sense of history or nostalgia, but that is the world that we occupy and the Braves have been no different. When the Braves’ opened their new stadium in Cobb County, everyone knew that the naming rights would be sold and the final winner was SunTrust Bank. While SunTrust Park was not a super offensive name by any stretch, where things got a little weird was when BB&T and SunTrust decided to merge last year into a new bank: Truist Bank. Given that SunTrust, as an entity, was not going to exist any longer, that meant that the Braves’ home park was going to undergo a name change as well.
Many had speculated (and hoped because “Truist” seems like a name that a marketing student came up with at the last minute for a class presentation on branding) that the Braves would be able to gain some sort of leverage (they didn’t, after all, agree to the new name when the original agreement was made) to where something like “Hank Aaron Field presented by Truist Bank” would be the ultimate outcome. Truist was never going to let an opportunity to show off their new brand initiative just walk away, but one hoped there could be a happy medium rather than have a bunch of purple logos everywhere.
Sadly, that is not what happened.
To say that this is a little disappointing is probably fair. The name itself doesn’t lend itself well to a ballpark and the purple color scheme doesn’t really jive with the rest of the decor around the park. That also seems to be the overriding sentiment among the fanbase.
That said, this isn’t something that moves the needle a ton. The amenities remain the same at The Battery, the Braves will still be the same team, and the organization continues to reap the benefits of what is likely a very fruitful partnership. Also, Truist Bank officials announced that they were going to be refurbishing baseball fields in the area and naming them in honor of Hank Aaron in an obvious nod to those who wished that his name appeared on the stadium. While not the same, there is some more good that comes out of this arrangement and everyone should be happy about that.