First Union Corp. said it has signed a five-year sponsorship deal with the Atlanta Braves baseball team.
Officials of the Charlotte, N.C., banking company would not say how much they had paid for the deal, other than to describe the amount as "substantial."
The $140 billion-asset bank said it would install six automated teller machines inside Turner Field, the new Braves stadium in Atlanta, which is still under construction, and put signs and promotional advertising on the main scoreboard.
First Union also plans to market affinity products, such as checks with the Atlanta Braves logo printed on them.
The Atlanta Braves are among the most popular teams in the country, both in terms of ticket sales and merchandise sales, according to statistics kept by Major League Baseball.
As the Braves' financial services sponsor, First Union adds a big league name to its roster of professional sports relationships, which includes deals with the Charlotte Hornets NBA basketball team, the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins, and baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays, an expansion team that hasn't begun play.
Alvin T. Sale, First Union's executive vice president for marketing and strategic planning, said the value added by the Braves' media prominence was a key factor in making the sponsorship decision.
The Atlanta Braves' image will support the bank's brand advertising as smart and innovative, Mr. Sale said. And the team's charisma gives it a presence that works with First Union's plans.
The exclusivity of the deal cuts ties between the Braves and other banking companies, including Wachovia Corp. and NationsBank Corp., North Carolina-based rivals of First Union that both engaged in promotional and sponsorship activities with the team in prior seasons.
Because the sponsorship deal is renewable in 2002, both the bank and the Braves said they see the relationship as long-term.
"The Atlanta Braves are one of the premier teams in all of professional sports," said David M. Carroll, CEO of First Union National Bank of Georgia. "They are good for Georgia and good for the Southeast. They are here for the long haul, and so are we."