Sports Commentary: The name game

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Stadiums endure; naming rights don't

By Mike Forster

  I received (yet) another goofy press release today.  This one described the excitement generated by the naming of the stadium the New York Giants and New York Jets share.

The new facility is to be named MetLife Stadium.  From the sound of the press release, all of the Big Apple is atwitter over this development.

The new complex takes the place of the old Giants Stadium.  Two things are accomplished with the opening of the new facility.  One, the Jets no longer play in a stadium named for another NFL franchise.  Two, television color men will have one less joke at hand, having lost their reference to Jimmy Hoffa’s body being buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium.

So, the New York (really New Jersey) football scene trades in a stadium that holds the allure of being the reputed resting place of a former Teamsters boss to one adorned with Snoopy.  That’s Snoopy, the Peanuts character and mascot of MetLife, as opposed to that vile being from the reality show, Jersey Shore.

While I’m not here to bemoan stadium naming rights, I am here to complain about their transiency.

That is, today’s MetLife Stadium could well be tomorrow’s American Express Field or Sunoco Stadium.

This theory holds true across all major sports.  Stadiums (and arenas) endure.  Their names come and go.

Remember Enron Field?  That’s now Minute Maid Park. When I lived in California (late ‘80s), the A’s played at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.  Since then, the joint has been named Network Associates Coliseum, McAfee Coliseum and Overstock.com Coliseum.  Today, apparently in an effort to save on re-painting all of the letters, it is called O.co Coliseum.  

What is O.co?  I know not and care not.

If you happen to be wandering the streets of Oakland in search of the ballpark, I’d advise you to avoid asking a stranger where O.co Coliseum is.  You’re better off asking for directions to the Oakland Coliseum.

The only two facilities I can name which were branded with businesses are Wrigley Field and FedEx Field.  That brand advantage is lost on me, though, as I neither chew gum nor ship packages with any urgency.

The most expensive naming rights in the United States are associated with Citi Field, home of the ghastly New York Mets.

The good folks at Citi shell out $20 million per year to see their name adorn that palace which the Mets manage to befoul nearly every evening.

For all of their cash outlay, I still think of the place as Shea Stadium.

I wonder how many Met fans think it’s called “City Stadium,” like what we have in Lynchburg?  

Sorry, I digress.  As long as I’m digressing, though, I just found out that person on Jersey Shore is called Snooki, not Snoopy.  Whew!

Anyway, here’s a bit of a test, to help give some perspective on this topic.  The San Francisco Giants, Boston Bruins, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Mavericks are the reigning champions of Major League Baseball, the NHL, the NFL and the NBA, respectively.

Can you name their home facilities?  If you watch a fair amount of sports, it’s reasonable to expect that you’ve heard them stated many, many times.

Here are your answers.  AT&T Park (Giants), TD Garden (Bruins), Lambeau Field (Packers) and the American Airlines Center (Mavs).

How’d you do?  When I ran this test on myself, the only one I knew was Lambeau Field (my other guesses being Candlestick Park, the Boston Garden and Big D Arena).  I’m willing to bet the only one you got right was also Lambeau Field.  That stadium is named for Curly Lambeau, who is not a bank, a dot-com or an airline.  He was merely the first coach in the history of the Packers.

Best of all, he was neither a cartoon dog nor a figure on a reality show.