Giants' home to become AT&T Park

Giants' home to become AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 2006 baseball season will usher in a new name for the Giants' ballpark by the bay, and per custom, its moniker certainly rings a familiar bell.

On March 1, SBC Park will be no more, the neon lights surrounding the bricked yard sporting the AT&T Park logo, brightly showcasing the sponsoring company's adopted brand, with AT&T long recognized as one of the corporate world's most historic and storied businesses.

Word had leaked out about the name change months ago, but the San Francisco Giants and AT&T made it official Friday, and while some fans may still lament the passing of Pacific Bell Park and its current name, they can expect a WiFi wonderland this season.

The park will retain its retro look, yet there won't be telegraph keys tapping out Morse code or the voice of Alexander Graham Bell exhorting baseball fans to attend the games via his amazing electrical speech machine -- no, the P.A. announcer won't have a megaphone, either.

But it was Bell's genius that paved the way for fiber optic cables and the Internet, and the old black telephone's new-fangled progeny will be an instrumental part of AT&T Park, and not just in name only.

The facility will continue to feature one of the planet's most technologically advanced sports venues, with AT&T WiFi service throughout the park, exclusive content on the Giants Digital Dugout -- sorry, no chewing tobacco allowed -- and a new entertainment system on the wireless network.

Even better, baseball games will also be played there, the home opener slated for Thursday, April 6, vs. the Atlanta Braves.

Giants executive vice president and chief operating officer Larry Baer was enthusiastic about AT&T's continuing partnership with the team.

"AT&T played a critical role in the development of our ballpark and helped to keep Major League Baseball in San Francisco," said Baer, who has been associated with the Giants since the Candlestick Park days.

"Our partnership enabled us to create what we believe has become the best ballpark in America and a popular San Francisco landmark," said Baer. "Our fans can continue to expect the same type of exciting and contending Giants baseball and quality customer service they have enjoyed ever since we opened the park."

The physical transformation to AT&T Park will require the removal of hundreds of signs and logos at the facility, and the changes should be finished by midseason.

The Giants assured fans the ballpark's experience and feel won't be altered, with the new signage similar to the original Pacific Bell and SBC Park look.

AT&T holds naming rights to the ballpark and company spokeswoman Melba Muscarolas said the firm is proud of its alliance with the baseball organization.

"We were delighted that our support helped build this wonderful facility and keep the Giants in San Francisco, said Muscarolas, vice president and general manager of the San Francisco market area for AT&T. "AT&T has an outstanding relationship with the Giants and we look forward to being a partner with the team and its fans for many years to come."

The Giants' and AT&T's roots coincidentally stretch back to the late 1800s in New York.

The New York Gothams had their inaugural National League season in 1883 and were renamed the Giants in 1885, the same year the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was incorporated in New York as a subsidiary of the American Bell Telephone Company.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.