Is Every Arena Owner A Corporate Whore?
Looking at Rush’s upcoming concert tour of North America I noticed something interesting. Take a look at this schedule:
St. Louis, MO
San Jose, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Las Vegas, NV
San Antonio, TX
Verizon Wireless Arena
Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheater
CONSOL Energy Center
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Palace of Auburn Hills
Credit Union Centre
Webster Bank Arena
Wells Fargo Center
Air Canada Centre
Air Canada Centre
First Niagara Center
Quicken Loans Arena
Time Warner Cable Arena
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
MGM Grand Garden Arena
US Airways Center
American Airlines Center
Out of 34 venues only one arena is not named after some corporation (The Palace in Michigan).
No arena except The Palace has the name of the city it is located in or attaches the local sports team to its name. Virtually every arena has sold its “naming rights.” Yes, arenas today still have unique names if you consider auto companies, airlines, tech companies, mega-banks and their ilk to be representative of the city.
If someone asked me where The Quicken Loans Arena, The Jiffy-Lube Live Amphitheater or The Honda Center was I’d be hard pressed to tell you. What do these corporate names say about the cities and the arenas they stuck their names on?
Up until the 1970’s most arenas and stadiums were clearly defined: The Boston Garden; Detroit Olympia; The Montreal Forum; Memorial Stadium in Baltimore; The Spectrum in Philadelphia; Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto; Buffalo Memorial Auditorium; Pittsburgh Civic Arena – and on and on it went for traditional names. The Buffalo Bills were one of the first to do a naming rights deal with Rich Stadium in 1972 and the practice picked up steam in the 1990’s to the point of obliterating almost all historic stadium and arena names. Corporate naming rights are now expected if a new facility opens up.
What we have is endemic of America as a whole – get every dollar you can. Letting the teams or cities who control the naming rights sell out to the highest bidder. Slap some temporary name on an arena or stadium for big money. How does this benefit the public who usually pays for the facility?
Now the thinking goes, get the money. Don’t remember past wars or our veterans by naming anything Veterans Coliseum, War Memorial Stadium or Soldiers Field.
Why keep the name Cobo Center in Detroit, who wants to honor a dead mayor?
Forget about William Shea who brought National League baseball back to New York in 1962 in the form of the Mets. Citifield is more appropriate for the cash starved Mets than Shea Stadium.
Ditch Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. After all, sportswriter Murphy was only instrumental in getting the Chargers to play in San Diego and having a new stadium built so the Padres could come into existence. Qualcomm Stadium means so much more to San Diegans.
When someone mentions Madison Sqaure Garden, 99% of Americans know which city it is located in, even if it is no longer adjacent to Madison Square in New York City. For the few teams and cities that have kept the names of their arenas and stadiums, time is growing short and Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Paul Brown Stadium’s days are numbered.
The teams and cities know where the money is: dumb corporations with their marketing research geniuses, who think paying millions of dollars a year will do anything to help their declining reputations. Enron Field anyone?