It’s July 26, 2013, and the Braves are coming off a loss against Mets at Citi Field in New York. Back at home, the first-ever Waffle House stadium outpost opens in Turner Field, the Atlanta ballpark. The Braves win. The next day, they win again. The day after that, they win for a third time. For 14 days in a row, they keep on winning — a long streak often attributed to the opening of the Waffle House stadium.
The Braves win enough games make the playoffs, a success that many credit to the concessions stand. And so Waffle House remained strong in the hearts of us Atlanta baseball fans as a beacon of hope, a signal that our team could turn things around — powered not just by talent and hard work but also hot waffles and smothered, covered hash browns — to bring us the victory we craved.
We still crave that victory, and after six long years of missing the mark, it’s time to come up with some new ideas. Which is why I think the Braves stadium should be renamed the Waffle House — or WH Field, to make it distinct from the restaurant chain. And following news of a banking merger in the Southeast, it could actually be a possibility.
In March 2017, with much controversy, a new Braves stadium opened. It’s called SunTrust Park after the Atlanta-headquartered bank that signed a 25-year deal for naming rights. Then, in early 2019, SunTrust announced a merger with BB&T, a bank up in North Carolina. After the deal closes, the company — which will be based out of Charlotte, NC — will operate under a new name, Truist Bank.
It’s believed that the bank will keep naming rights to the stadium, and SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers says he is committed to retaining a presence in Atlanta and admirably plans to double community investment in the city over the next three years. But the Braves are the “team of the South,” with a widespread fan base, and they have a hard enough time convincing Atlantans — widely recognized as the worst sports fans around — to become loyal to the team. A North Carolina name might only make things worse: The Braves needs a local company to stand behind them.
A local company like Waffle House.
Waffle House, headquartered in the Atlanta area, is a legend. It’s a local favorite with massive national appeal, making it perfect for the Braves, with their fans just as scattered as an order of those WaHo hash browns.
Waffle House loves the Braves. Atlanta loves Waffle House. And maybe, just maybe, by lending the stadium its name, Waffle House is what can make Atlanta, finally, really love the Braves.
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This post has been updated with new information.