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Will BB&T Ballpark see a name change following merger of BB&T and SunTrust?

BB&T and SunTrust fields and arenas that may change as a result of the merger

BB&T and SunTrust announced that they agreed to merge. As a result, will these fields and arenas be renamed?
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BB&T and SunTrust announced that they agreed to merge. As a result, will these fields and arenas be renamed?

Charlotte’s poised to get another bank headquarters with Thursday’s news that Winston-Salem-based BB&T is merging with Atlanta’s SunTrust. A new name for the combined bank will be announced later this year, complicating matters for the many facilities throughout the region that bear with the BB&T or SunTrust name.

Perhaps the most prominent such site in Charlotte is BB&T Ballpark, the 10,000-seat, $54-million home of the Knights minor-league baseball team that opened in March 2014. The Knights are in year six of an 18-year naming-rights deal with BB&T for the stadium, according to Dan Rajkowski, the team’s chief operating officer.

“The naming rights deal is transferable and will be an asset of the merged banks,” Rajkowski said in an email. “We have not received any indication from BB&T if there will be a name change from the merger.”

Should the merger result in a name change at the ballpark, it’ll affect everything from its prominent neon sign that faces Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to promotional materials within the stadium.

The $66 billion combination of BB&T and SunTrust will form the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets and deposits, the two companies said when announcing the deal Thursday. The combined bank will be based in Charlotte, which is a “new, objective, neutral” headquarters site, according to BB&T CEO Kelly King.

Outside Charlotte, the BB&T name also adorns the home field of the Winston-Salem Dash, another minor-league baseball team that the bank signed a 15-year naming-rights deal with in 2010 for an undisclosed amount. “We have not had conversations with BB&T regarding their merger at this time,” team spokesman Joe Weil said in an email.

BB&T is also the name of the home football stadium of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Steve Shutt, Associate Athletic Director, Athletic Communications, said it’s too soon to tell what will happen with the naming rights of the field. “I am sure we will learn more in the coming weeks and months,” Shutt said in an email.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, last year North Carolina A&T sold the naming rights to its home football field in Greensboro, previously called Aggie Stadium, to BB&T for $1.5 million. The naming-rights deal began last summer and lasts for 15 years, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

“It took us by surprise,” Ken Sigmon, vice chancellor for university advancement, said of the merger. “Obviously we’ll let the bank take the lead in telling us when they would like the name changed when they come up with a new name.”

Sigmon added that as part of NC A&T’s agreement with BB&T, the bank will cover any cost to change the signage.

In Atlanta, SunTrust has the naming rights for the Braves baseball field.

The local bank signed a 25-year deal with the Major League Baseball team in 2014. The agreement includes “marquee signage for SunTrust as well as additional signage and promotional opportunities throughout the ballpark and adjacent mixed-use complex,” SunTrust said in a 2014 statement.

“Both of our organizations have deep roots in Atlanta and loyal fans throughout the Southeast and across the nation. We couldn’t imagine a more perfect partner and look forward to seeing the first pitch at SunTrust Park in 2017,” Atlanta Braves CEO Terry McGuirk said in the statement.

Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall declined to comment on a potential name change.

A name change for prominent sports arenas wouldn’t be new following a merger of the facility’s title sponsor.

Following Charter Communications’ purchase in May 2016 of Time Warner Cable, Charlotte’s dominant cable provider, the Hornets announced that the team’s uptown home would change its name from from Time Warner Cable Arena to Spectrum Center.

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As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
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