Friday Five: On A Merger, NBA All-Star Weekend, And Signing Day Celebration

1. A “Merger of Equals?”

BB&T and SunTrust, two of the largest banks in the Southeast, announced a merger this week. The all stock merger, valued at $66 billion, has been touted as a “merger of equals” in a news release by BB&T. But is it really?

According to Bill Chappell of NPR, the merger leans more favorably in the direction of BB&T, with its shareholders controlling 53 percent to SunTrust’s 47 percent. The newly formed banking conglomerate will also have one headquarters in Charlotte, which means both banks will abandon their roots (Winston-Salem, N.C. and Atlanta, G.A., respectively). The merger, according to Chappell, will close in the fourth quarter of 2019, at which point a new name will be selected for the combined bank.

This merger has personal ramifications for me, as I’ve been a BB&T customer for nine years. In my opinion, this merger is nothing more than a greedy, gluttonous move by both banks. I’m not a fan of SunTrust and BB&T hasn’t been perfect by any means. One thing I did like about BB&T was the “small town” feel despite it being a pretty large corporation. I fear that will almost assuredly go away, now. The past year has seen a comedy of errors as far as my experience with BB&T, from a well-publicized outage that caused tremendous inconveniences, to not having viable choices on checking accounts without fees, which is something I detest about “traditional” banks.

Needless to say, I’ve started looking elsewhere for my banking needs.

2. NBA All-Star Fail

When the NBA announced the All-Star Weekend festivities would, indeed, take place in Charlotte in 2019, I was excited. Now that it’s a week away, I’m not anymore. For starters, the ticketing process has been ridiculous, in my opinion.

I guess I knew it would be for Sunday’s All-Star Game (an impossible ticket to get) but I thought the other events would be a bit easier to obtain tickets to. Nope. There wasn’t much fanfare when tickets for the other events went on sale. At least not in my neck of the woods. I didn’t even know tickets had gone on sale until I saw a post on Facebook the day of, hours after the on sale time. By then, virtually all tickets had been gobbled up by fans and scalpers alike, leaving me with nothing.

The only tickets on sale to begin with were the Rising Stars Challenge and Celebrity Game on Friday as well as the All-Star Practice on Saturday. The two marquee events, All-Star Saturday Night and the aforementioned All-Star Game itself, were never available to the general public. That is, unless you’d like to dish out a mere $2,200 for both nights on Stubhub. Pocket change.

Speaking of the Celebrity Game, that leads me to my next point. The lineup for the game this year is awful. While other host cities have seen the likes of Justin Bieber, Nick Cannon, Common, Michael B. Jordan, and Candace Parker, Charlotte gets Dr. Oz and several other folks I haven’t heard of. I will say, however, it’s cool to see former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and singer Chris Daughtry in the lineup but that’s about it. The Celebrity Game is something I’ve always wanted to attend but, given this lineup, I’m glad I didn’t buy tickets.

Lastly, I had thought about going down to Charlotte to take in the sights and sounds and attend the fan experience at Epicentre. The free experience includes interactive activities, player appearances, and more. But even that has been a fail as fans had to pre-register to get first access and a wristband for entry. Despite it being free and open to the public.

Once again, this was rarely publicized in my hometown or even by the Charlotte Hornets social media platforms, for that matter. By the time I found out one must pre-register, you guessed it, registration was closed. Word is fans can still show up any of the three days of All-Star Weekend to attend, regardless of pre-registration, but I don’t want to drive two hours one way on the chance that this happens.

We’ll see what I decide to do.

3. Signing Day Celebration

Wednesday was the annual National Signing Day for college football recruits. UNC has held a Signing Day Celebration each of the past several years to commemorate the success of the day. The event had been open to the general public in which fans could purchase tickets and hear from members of the team. I actually attended one of these events a few years ago with my late grandmother and we had a blast! We even got a photo with then UNC head coach, Larry Fedora. It was one of the many times I’m thankful I spent with her before her passing.

UNC officials decided to make the Signing Day Celebration exclusively for season ticket holders and letterwinners this year, shutting out the general public completely. I will never understand this decision. I mean, it’s not like the Signing Day Celebration event was free. Whether you were general public or season ticket holder, you had to purchase tickets. The athletics department could still make money off of this. Yet UNC officials decided to go the way of exclusivity, a clear indication that general fans are unimportant, in my opinion.

Sure, season ticket holders are important, but how many of those folks sat at Kenan Stadium during the Heels’ 2-9 campaign in 2018? Or 2017’s injury-plagued 3-9 season? Guess who did attend some games during those seasons? Yours truly. Not everyone can commit the time or financial resources for season tickets. Some choose to go the single game route instead. It shouldn’t mean those folks are any less important than season ticket holders.

I contacted UNC about this to no avail, unsurprisingly. That’s quite okay because I’ve made a decision of my own: I will not attend any UNC Football game this upcoming season and likely several seasons thereafter. What a shame.

4. #ShotOniPhone Challenge

Apple announced a photography contest in January to give all the iPhone photographers out there a chance to be featured on company marketing materials and beyond. The #ShotOniPhone Challenge is pretty simple: users can upload a photograph taken solely on their iPhone device to Twitter or Instagram (using #ShotOniPhone of course) or email submissions to a specified address.

The submission deadline has passed, but you already know I entered. I happened to be on Facebook a week or two ago and found out about the contest, so I scrambled to get a quality pic to submit. The photos will be reviewed by a panel of judges and 10 winners will be selected later this month. Wish me luck!

5. #OscarsChallenge Update

Time continues to tick down until the Academy Awards and I’m getting closer to completing the #OscarsChallenge for this year. I just posted reviews for the fourth and fifth films (Roma and Green Book) this week, with BlackKklansman on deck. Be sure to check out those and all of my reviews here.

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