The Braves will use Delta to bring fans a first-class experience in the new SunTrust Park.
The Atlanta-based air carrier will sponsor an 18,000-square-foot lounge with walnut wood ceilings, memorabilia displays, two kitchens and a 30-foot-long bar with a marble-slab top — along with a more casual sports bar with 20-foot-long televisions — inside the new stadium when it opens in 2017.
The Delta SKY360 Club will be available to fans sitting in 1,500 high-end seats between the two dugouts. The team has not yet announced ticket pricing in those two areas. But the padded seats there will be wide with high-backs, and the area will include in-seat service with all inclusive food, beer, wine and “premium” parking.
The Braves call the club a “premium hospitality area.”
Premium areas that lure affluent fans have changed stadium business models. Those areas, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month, are a big driver of ever increasing stadium costs and are necessary to draw fans out of their living rooms, away from high-definition televisions.
SunTrust Park has a $622 million budget.
Robert Boland, a professor of sports management at New York University, told the newspaper last month that club seats — like those that will have access to the Delta club — typically produce revenue about equal to that of all regular seats in the stadium.
The sponsorships are also beneficial for corporations, although Kennesaw State University sports economist J.C. Bradbury said it’s difficult to calculate the return on that investment.
‘Why would Delta target luxury seating areas?” Bradbury said. “They’re targeting fans with a lot of income, people who will be on the airplanes a lot, first-class travelers and a lot and business travelers. Part of it is just having a very close connection to those customers.”
The Delta club isn’t unique to SunTrust. The air carrier has similar clubs in the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field, Yankee Stadium, the New York Mets CitiField, New York’s Madison Square Garden and the Seattle Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field.
Delta is currently a big sponsor at Turner Field, and the relationship with the Braves at SunTrust Field will extend beyond the club lounge.
The deal also means Delta will be featured sponsor throughout the new ballpark, in the team’s mixed-use development outside the stadium and will continue to be the charter airline for the Braves organization.
The popular Delta Medallion Parking Lot, available to all medallion sky miles members, will be a feature at the new ballpark as well.
Derek Schiller, the Braves’ executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the team’s relationship with Delta dates to 1966.
“We have been extremely proud to call Delta Air Lines a partner for the last 50 seasons and we look forward to 50 more,” Schiller said in a prepared statement.
Delta last extended its relationship with the Braves in 2010, with a five-year agreement, which kept it as the Braves charter carrier and included an expansion of the 755 Club in Turner Field. The year before, Delta dropped its sponsorship of the Atlanta Falcons, saying it planned to align more with baseball.
“The baseball fan, in general, is similar to our customer base,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said.