Baseball has officially arrived in the metaverse. With the expedited development of many technologies over the past two years, digital worlds have begun to grow. In these early days of Web 3.0, all kinds of experiments and new fan engagement platforms are being tested around the sports world. In collaboration with Major League Baseball, the Braves became the first North American sports franchise to open a digital version of their home to fans as Digital Truist Park debuted and welcomed avatars of all kinds.
Atlanta’s interactive ballpark is the first of its kind. It allows fans to communicate with one another, listen to speakers, watch videos and feel like they are a part of the Braves fanbase, even when they can’t be in person.
Digital Truist Park was launched on Thursday, making the Braves the first Major League Baseball team to join the metaverse. The experience had sound that made you feel as if you were at the park with airplanes flying overhead from Hartsfield Airport, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” playing in the background and emotes that allowed fans to interact with each other and speakers alike.
In-game host Mark Owens moderated the day, just as he does on every game day, curating an interview with Braves reliever Luke Jackson. The right-handed pitcher delved into his rehab journey since being placed on the 60-day injured list with a torn right UCL on April 3.
“Truthfully, all you can do is really work out, and you don’t really eat a lot actually, after surgery,” Jackson said. “Like you can’t really move around a whole ton. I can do the chop now; that’s about the extent of my motion right now. I can’t really lift probably anything over 10 pounds. They try to take it as slow as possible, so it’s one of those things that, I get home and I still rehab; I have to ice twice a night, I have to do hand exercises. It’s like a full-day event of [rehabbing].”
But the fan experience allowed the 30-year-old Jackson to get more personable with fans asking questions about his gaming habits, picking his No. 77 uniform and the chants that sound like a boo but are just his first name.
“My favorite part of Digital Truist Park would definitely be this kind of metaverse, where you kind of have this proximity talk; you’re actually next to people,” Jackson said. “It’s the perfect layout of the field, so if you’ve never been, if you live out of the country or a different state, you can go hang out and talk to people. I think it’s a really cool social gathering for big baseball fans around the country, which I think is awesome.”
The next activity took fans to a different part of the ballpark, allowing them to explore from Georgia Power Pavilion to right behind shortstop on the field, where fans had already begun to run the bases — just as they do after a Braves win. There, they saw the beginning of the documentary that was previewed on YouTube three days ago: “The Road Back | Ronald Acuña Jr.’s Return.”
The trailer was followed by a follow-up video from Braves president/CEO Derek Schiller, who discussed the excitement around the virtual park.
“Welcome to the first event at Digital Truist Park,” Schiller said. “This is a partnership between SURREAL Events and Major League Baseball, and we’re glad that you’re with us tonight. This is the first time any of us are doing this together, so we hope you have a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing you around Digital Truist Park many times in the future.”
Opening Day for Digital Truist Park was capped off by an interview between fans and former pitcher Peter Moylan. The Australia native described his transition from the field to the booth as a reporter, his change of pitching style from over the top to sidearm and the Melbourne Aces, an Australian team that Moylan has managed to back-to-back Claxton Shield championships.
After the official introduction concluded, fans were free to explore the field, create and update their very own avatar and participate in an Easter egg hunt in which the first 100 people to complete the search won a real-life bobblehead.
The digital ballpark is just the beginning of how creative teams will get to give their fans the most interactive experiences with players and the environment of Truist Park, especially those who can’t personally attend the stadium.