January 29th, 2008

Stadium Name Game

By Michael Gluskin
News-Dispatch (Michigan City, IN)

With the Cubs and Wrigley Field likely to be sold at some point soon, possibly within the year, the issue of naming rights for the legendary stadium has been mentioned recently.

Although Wrigley is a sort of a corporate sponsor, since the family who used to own the team is the same one associated with the chewing gum, the company has never paid a dime for the naming rights.

Last week, it was reported that one Cubs fan expressed his concern over the stadium being named something along the lines of “Pepto-Bismol Park,” to which a Cubs executive correctly pointed out that the product and his team already share a close bond.

The White Sox sold the naming rights of Comiskey Park to phone company U.S. Cellular before the 2003 season, in what turned out to be prophetic move. The team made many phone calls to the bullpen last season, but they probably didn’t go over their allotted minutes because of the sponsorship deal. It’s also convenient for manager Ozzie Guillen’s plan that the Sox play most of their games on nights and weekends.

There are plenty of odd-sounding stadium names around the country due to naming rights contracts that teams sign to raise revenues, and companies desire for added exposure. Let’s take a look at some of those arenas, but not before renaming a few along the way:

Where are we? field: Host to this year’s Super Bowl, the beautiful new facility in Glendale, Ariz., is named University of Phoenix stadium. The stadium is not located on a college campus, nor is it located in Phoenix. At least it’s in the right state.

Who plays here? stadium: A couple of professional teams have an identity crisis. The Florida Marlins host games at Dolphins Stadium (at least they’re both animals that swim). And the New York Jets play at Giants Stadium.

Are you thirsty? park: Baseball may be closely affiliated with peanuts and Cracker Jack, but the game’s stadiums provide the drinks. If you’re over 21, feel free to attend Coors Field, Miller Park or Busch Stadium. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative (or are low on Vitamin C), head to Minute Maid Park instead.

Are we there yet? arena: NBA executives must love racking up frequent flier miles because a list of the league’s stadium names could be confused with an airport terminal. United, US Airways, American and Air Canada are all stadium sponsors.

What’s your number? court: While the White Sox’s park also falls into this category, the NBA features a pair of arenas boasting good cell phone reception, as Verizon and AT&T are corporate sponsors.

Can you hear me now?

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