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Cardinal Stadium Naming Rights

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by user Madproof9

I saw the post "Naming Rights" and figured this would be a good time to post this up here, it's an article I just wrote for "The State Press", Arizona State's student newspaper....

With only five months until opening day, the Arizona Cardinals still don’t have a definite name for their future home. Currently tagged as “Cardinals Stadium,” it’s “highly unlikely that the name will stick around in today’s sports world,” says Gina Leo, spokesman for HOK Sports, the company constructing the new stadium in Glendale.

According to information published by the four major professional sports associations in the United States - The NHL, NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball – there are currently 103 different stadiums housing one or more professional sports teams. Seventy-one of those stadiums are named after corporations, and six of those share a name with another stadium in a different city, such as the American Airlines Arena, which is the name of the NBA facilities in both Dallas and Miami. Of the 32 not named after a corporation, only six of them have been built in the last 15 years. The remaining 26 are all aging buildings, likely to be replaced with a corporate-named, new-aged building in the near future. “You want to go to the National Car Rental Center and catch a game?” Nick Morelli, 19, and an avid sports fan asks. “How about Quicken Loans Arena? Or the Pepsi Center; the one in Denver, not the one in Albany. Stadium names today are pathetic.”

While pathetic might not be the best term, unoriginal and un-identifying might be better. There are very few stadiums left whose name defines its occupants. “Arrowhead, Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Mile High. You hear those names, and you know where they are, you know who plays there. You hear FedEx Forum, and it has no identity. It could be anywhere, with any team,” states Morelli. “Even some corporate names are ok, like Coors Field in Denver. Everyone knows it’s in Denver, and Coors is made there, it’s a good match. Busch Stadium in St. Louis is the same thing. That’s not the case for most of the stadiums though. I would never associate Papa John’s Stadium with Louisville, Ky., if someone didn’t tell me it was there.”

Even in the rare case a corporate name fits the stadium, it’s very likely that the name won’t be around for long. One consequence of corporate naming is that many corporations don’t last very long. They are bought out, renamed, resold, and then renamed again. Phoenix’s Chase Field, for example, was previously known as Bank One Ballpark, but was renamed after Bank One was bought out by Chase. US Airways Arena, also in Phoenix, was known as America West Arena until this January, when it was renamed to reflect the merger between the two airlines. Boston’s NHL and NBA arena, currently named TD Banknorth Garden, has undergone 34 name changes since it opened in 1993, all because of various buyouts and mergers with different companies. “I’m from Maine, I go down to Boston two or three times a year to catch a Bruin’s game. Every time I go, the stadium has a different name,” says Morelli. “Why can’t they just rename it the ‘Boston Garden,’ everyone loved that name, and everyone in Boston still calls it that.”

Bostonians aren’t alone. San Franciscans recently voted to change Monster Park, the current name of their football stadium, back to it’s original name, Candlestick Park, after Monsters naming rights contract expires. Candlestick was originally changed to 3Com Park, but the name never caught on. “People were too used to Candlestick, the park is a legend in itself,” says San Francisco native Jesse Weinberger. “And now it’s Monster Park. I hate it; it’s just another chance for big corporations to get their products out. It’s awful. I can’t wait until it’s Candlestick again.” In Denver, most fans refuse to call their new stadium Invesco Field, and simply refer to it by its predecessor’s name, Mile High. “Once you get inside, there are ads all over. Drink this beer, eat this brand of hot dog, drink Coke because Pepsi sucks. Why can’t the companies leave part of the stadium for something meaningful?” asks Weinberger.

The Cardinals have already started to find sponsors for the stadiums interior. It was announced last week that Budweiser has bought the naming rights to an entire end of the new stadium, which will be known as the Budweiser Red Zone. “It’s awful, I want to go see a football game, not be bombarded with advertisements. If I wanted to see ads all day long, I’d just sit at home and watch TV,” states Weinberger.

“The fans are the ones who go to the games, the ones who support the team. Not the corporations. We should have a say in what the stadium should be called. Not some big company just because they have money. I don’t want to go to the Budweiser Red Zone at American Airlines Field inside Snyder Pretzel Stadium. I want to go to a place aptly named like Cactus Stadium or Tillman Field,” says Weinberger. “Products don’t last but ten minutes. Places and heroes live forever. Give us a name we can be proud of.”


Sat 04/08/06, 2:52 am EST

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