SBD/September 17, 2014/Facilities

Sources: Braves' Naming-Rights Deal With SunTrust Worth More Than $10M Annually

SunTrust's deal would represent the second-most lucrative in MLB

The Braves' 25-year naming-rights deal with SunTrust Banks for the club's new ballpark in Cobb County is worth in excess of $10M per year, according to sources. The sum would be comparable to the 20-year, $220M naming-rights deal the 49ers signed with Levi's for their new stadium and would represent the second-highest deal in MLB behind the Mets' estimated $400M pact for Citi Field. Braves execs declined to comment regarding the financials of the deal, but Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Derek Schiller said the deal was derived from a special relationship the Braves have held with SunTrust for much of the past two decades. Activation will include signage inside and outside the ballpark, a revival and expansion of the SunTrust club currently at Turner Field and some type of retail banking presence for SunTrust in the large mixed-use development being constructed adjacent to the facility, among other assets. "SunTrust is a company with whom we've enjoyed a very deep and productive partnership," Schiller said. "We're very enthused about being able to bring that to a whole new level in our new facility." Van Wagner assisted the Braves on the naming-rights sales process (Eric Fisher & Don Muret, Staff Writers). In Atlanta, Hudson & Wenk note the ballpark marks SunTrust's "largest sponsorship to date." SunTrust Atlanta/Georgia division President & CEO Jenner Wood III said that negotiations "began late last year" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/16).

SCENES FROM THE SUBURBS: Braves Chair & CEO Terry McGuirk said that the deal "came together sooner than expected." McGuirk: "The passion that the SunTrust people had for this deal so overwhelmed everything that it quickly became a one-track plan to get this deal done." In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes SunTrust "has had a number of marketing sponsorships with college and professional sports organizations in the past, but never one like this with its name on the entire venue." The Braves under their deal with Cobb County "get the revenue from naming rights, which over time are expected to recoup a substantial portion of the team’s share of the cost of building and financing" the $622M ballpark. The Braves yesterday also "released new architectural renderings of the stadium, again cautioning that the design remains a work in progress." The renderings "show an exterior that combines brick, stone, glass and steel; a four-story ChopHouse restaurant/bar beyond right field; and can’t-miss SunTrust Park signage beyond center field" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 9/17). Schuerholz said that among the features of the ballpark, there "will be a four-level Chophouse and special seating space for 100 people behind the right fielder" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/16). Braves President John Schuerholz said that the park's 41,500 seats "will be arranged to provide a 'very intimate' setup to bring fans a better experience." Without giving specifics, he added that the outfield wall "will be unique and different" than Turner Field. MLB Commissioner-elect Robert Manfred attend the event, and called the stadium and mixed-use development "the wave of the future." Manfred: "The Braves are doing something here that people not only in baseball, but in other sports are going to emulate." Manfred said that SunTrust Park "will have the highest degree of integration with a mixed-use development of any facility in the country" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 9/17).

LARGEST MLB NAMING-RIGHTS DEALS (BY AVG. ANNUAL VALUE)
BALLPARK
TOTAL
YEARS
AVG. VALUE
EXPIRES
TENANT
Citi Field
$400M
20
$20M
'28
Mets
SunTrust Park
$250M
25
$10M
'42
Braves
Minute Maid Park
$178M
28
$6.36M
'29
Astros
Globe Life Park
$50M
10
$5.0M
'23
Rangers
Citizens Bank Park
$95M
25
$3.8M
'29
Phillies
 

CHALLENGES REMAIN? In Georgia, Jon Gillooly notes Braves Exec VP/Business Operations Mike Plant does not believe that there was "any reason to hold up" yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony despite the fact that the county and Braves "have a few outstanding lawsuits attempting to derail" the ballpark plans. Plant believes that opposition in Cobb County "is small." Plant: "We don't see that being an obstacle. We see that being just another step in this process" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 9/17). In N.Y., Mike Tierney notes yesterday's ceremony "came amid the furor over the recent revelation" of a '12 e-mail by the outgoing Hawks Managing Partner Bruce Levenson in which he "voiced concerns that his team was drawing too few white fans." The Braves, "like many major league franchises, have a fairly high proportion of white fans, and the new location is closer to some predominantly white areas that are seen as baseball hotbeds." The Braves "had braced themselves for less than overwhelming applause for the move." McGuirk: "I don’t expect everybody to always be happy." But he "characterized most Braves followers as overjoyed" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/17).

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