Braves will probably be playing in ‘Truist Park’ soon

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Back in February news broke that Charlotte, North Carolina-based BB&T bank was going to buy SunTrust Bank, creating the sixth largest bank in the country. Since then the people in charge of spinning all of that have cast it not as an acquisition but as a “partnership of equals” or whatever, and the upshot of it all was that the combined bank was going to get a new name.

Yesterda that new name was announced: “Truist.” No, that’s not a real word, but I suppose that’s nothing new in corporate America. If you doubt that, I have an Altria and an Accenture to show you. What does “Truist” mean, anyway?

The name underscores BB&T’s and SunTrust’s reputations for trust, transparency and honesty, Dontá Wilson, BB&T chief digital and client experience officer, told the Observer this week. “Truist really is conveying a message that we’re going to stay true to our legacy,” he said.

The name also reflects the new bank’s plan to provide better technology to customers, Wilson said.

OK. It’s your bank, dudes. Call it what you want. To me it sounds more like “truism,” though, which is a statement that is inherently cliched, obvious and banal and is thus almost not worth repeating, but what do I know? I just deal in words for a living.

I don’t much care about bank names, but this one is relevant for us because one of the bank names disappearing due to the new appellation happens to be the name of a major league ballpark.

While there has been no official announcement yet, it seems inevitable that the Braves, the current tenants of SunTrust Park will, eventually anyway, play in “Truist Park” or “Truist Field” or “Truist Stadium” or something, because that’s how naming rights work. Maybe the Braves were wise enough to ask for an out or a veto in the event of a name change when they negotiated their original naming rights deal with SunTrust, but given that they’re willingly calling their new spring training park “CoolToday Park” they don’t seem terribly hung up on, you know, not playing in ridiculously-named buildings.

At this point, let us review the history of ballpark names for this venerable franchise:

  • 1915-1952: Braves Field — Classic. Park named after the team. Doesn’t get any simply than that.
  • 1953-1965: Milwaukee County Stadium — This is good too. It’s descriptive. Illustrates who actually built, paid for and owned the park, too, which is a bit of honesty no one seems all that interested in today.
  • 1966-1996: Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium — Same deal. Not flashy, but you knew where you were at least.
  • 1997-2016: Turner Field — Maybe you like Ted Turner, maybe you don’t, but he was the most important and influential owner in team history and that’s a common practice in baseball history.
  • 2017-?: SunTrust Park — Maybe “Turner Field” was also some corporate naming too, as Turner was the name of a company and a man, but this was the first foray into fully-blown corporate naming. Like most of them it was pretty inoffensive and, at the very least, had some sort of vaguely positive imagery in that corporate name. Sort of like how “Great American Ballpark,” “Progressive Field” and even “Citi Field” serve double duty as corporate names and basically passable words to say before “Field” or “Park.” Stuff you get used to quickly.

Before 1915 they played some games in Fenway Park and I suppose “Fenway” is not a real word either, but let’s let that go for now. Let us, for now, focus on the fact that the future now holds “Truist Park” or some such and I don’t care how many times Chip Caray or someone says it, it’s gonna sound kind of dumb as applied to a baseball stadium on both first, thousandth, and ten thousandth reference.

Personally I’d forego the middle-reliever salary the bank is paying each year for naming rights and name the ballpark after Hank Aaron. But hey, if the checks clear, why would the Braves care?

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.