June 9th, 2000

They Didn't Pay YOU to Call it Safeco, So Feel Free to Call it Whatever You'd Like

By Jim Caple
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The following is brought to you by the friendly folks at Arthur Richards Macronics, a wholly owned subsidiary of a division of a major corporation that is part of an international conglomerate dedicated to making money.

Sports is an increasingly corporate world, where everything from a single inning (the Honda Power Equipment Mow ‘Em Down Inning) to the entire season ("Padres 2000 presented by Sycuan") has some company’s name attached it.

Literally so, the case of stadiums.

Having just finished a homestand at Safeco Field, the Mariners open a series tonight at Pacific Bell Park, the Giants’ new stadium that replaces 3Com Park and which, in a former lifetime, was better known as Candlestick Park. Neither stadium is to be confused with Network Associates Coliseum, where the Mariners played Oakland last month.

Seattle’s schedule also includes games at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, Anaheim’s Edison Field, Detroit’s Comerica Park and Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field. However, they do not play at Houston’s new stadium, Enron Field, or Cincinnati’s Cinergy Field. But there’s always next year, when Pittsburgh opens PNC Park and Milwaukee opens Miller Park.

Selling the naming rights to a stadium is nothing new, of course. Corporate sponsorship is such a given in sports today we no longer question it. And if a Fortune 500 corporation wants to spend millions from its advertising budget to put its name on a stadium, fine. If it cuts down on the public’s cost, so much the better, particularly in San Francisco where the stadium was built with private funds.

And if Ralph Lauren ever ponies up the money to call a stadium the Polo Grounds, everyone will be happy.

Regardless of their current names, though, to me the Giants’ former home will always be Candlestick Park and Johnny Bench’s former workplace will always be Riverfront Stadium. If you feel more comfortable with the old names, stick with them. And if you don’t like the new stadiums’ corporate names, come up with your own.

If you like the sound of Safeco Field, fine, keep calling it that. But if not, there are plenty of other possibilities. Seattle Stadium. The House That Griffey Left. Rainier Field. Pioneer Diamond. Edgar Park. Or given the stadium’s financial problems, Debits Field.

It’s up to you. Remember, you paid for part of that stadium, too.

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