Corporate Venue Names Getting Worse

Fenway Park Do you think the Red Sox or Yankees would ever allow their parks to be thrown into a stadium naming rights sale?

Fenway Park
Do you think the Red Sox or Yankees would ever allow their parks to be thrown into a stadium “naming rights” sale?

 

We know. It pays a lot of the bills. And it takes a lot of green bills to pay a lot of big player mils.

It’s simply too bad from a prosaic perspective that most corporations that choose to spend their marketing dollars on naming rights to various sports venues have nothing lyrical or catchy to offer. Not all, but many.

We seem to have fallen into an accepting mode with Minute Maid Park as the name of our baseball venue in Houston and it isn’t hard to see why. The place was already heavily accented with a trainload of oranges that are actually the size of pumpkins when MMP bought in a few years ago. And there also was a smattering of orange already in place to boost the connection agenda. All that MMP needed was for the team to drop their red uniform gear and go back to the orange and dark blue colors and style of their origins, which they did. It was a major voila for the marketing interests of the orange juice company. Plus, MMP is cool, easy and understandable translation of the baseball stadium’s name as a baseball park. It’s Minute Maid Park – not “Field” or “Stadium” – The “Park” is unmistakably intended for baseball.

Other purchased names are often beyond hope of anything “catchy” by abbreviation. – Others fall to the most common doable nickname by acronym – or to some kind of phonetic invention of a word found commonly in the flow of the letters in the acronym. An example of the first type be the old corporate name for the baseball park in Phoenix, Arizona. It began years ago as “Bank One Ballpark”, but fans quickly converted the three acronym letters from that title into calling it “The BOB”.

In the case of our now three-year old “The Dow Employees Credit Union” Stadium at UH, that one has sagged into two groups. One, TV reporters who simply spell out the acronym letters one-by-one, as in “Over at T-D-E-C-U Stadium tonight; or two, we fans who now call it ‘Tea-DECK-You”.

Either way, there is nothing catchy about saying that name in any way we’ve, so far, discovered.

We have no problem with schools naming their academic buildings, fields, field houses, or stadiums in the names of significant alumni financial or service contributors. That practice has been an American cultural tradition forever, it seems. Although I doubt that many UT Longhorn fans refer to their home football venue as the “Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium” when they post anything in social media. Most Texans in general simply grew up thinking of “Memorial Stadium” as the home of the football Longhorns. And how many people even know that actual playing field there is named for Houston alumni contributor, Joe Jamail? It was the same issue for me as a kid when August Busch bought the St. Louis Cardinals and changed the name of Buff Stadium in Houston, which he then also owned, to Busch Stadium. He may have legally changed the name, but it has remained “Buff Stadium” to most of us ardent fans from that era to this day. And for us, until we are all gone, it shall remain “Buff Stadium”  in our hearts.

The latest big time naming rights purchase I’ve read about is among the worst of all time from an organically catchy connection to the principal occupant of the purchased site. Starting in November 2016, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, formerly known as Comiskey Park, will be known as “Guaranteed Rate Field” – and that will be the place’s identity for the next 13 years. In his August 27, 2016 column of “Simon Says”, Scott Simon of Houston Media News 88.7 expressed his reaction partially in these terms:

“Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

“But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Guaranteed Rate Field. You’re kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?”

“Ridicule broke out on social media. I sure joined in. What’s next in corporate stadium names? The Viagra Dome? Preparation H Park? Prozac Stadium? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Ex Lax Field!”

Read the whole Simon article: http://www.npr.org/2016/08/27/491544332/fear-not-white-sox-fans-youll-get-used-to-guaranteed-field

That reference to one of those products listed in my Simon Says quote brought back memories of a flippant suggestion I made to the City of Houston back in the early 1970s when Fred Hofheinz was mayor. The City was gearing up to start receiving the new federal “revenue sharing” monies that were going to start coming back from Washington to local communities for their own discretionary spending on local social assistance programs. In other words, “revenue sharing” was the part of our tax money that went to Washington that was now coming back to us for local decisions on social programs – minus, of course, the cost to local, state, and federal agencies that were needed to process this round trip for some of the money we sent away.

My rejected suggestion for the City of Houston’s Revenue Sharing Program forty plus years ago was also Preparation H.

Have a nice last week of August 2016, everybody! Let’s hope, at least, that one of our local sporting clubs gets to enjoy a championship season before their home venue gets another worse to really bad name.

Traditional to Bland to Flat Out Awful seems to be the guaranteed rate of change in venue names these days.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

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2 Responses to “Corporate Venue Names Getting Worse”

  1. Michael McCroskey Says:

    As a guaranteed rate is, also, usually a fixed rate; it seems a perfect name for a Chicago stadium, given their political and baseball World Series history. Fans can simply now call their ballpark “The Fix.” On game day, if there is no rain, they can say “The Fix is on!”

    Incidentally, your proposed Ex Lax Field? I think it would eventually become know as “The Dump.”

  2. Rick B. Says:

    Similarly, the Viagra-named venue would become known as ” The Stick.”

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