November 16th, 2005

Do the Yankees Still Play at Yankee Stadium?

By Scott Soshnick
Bloomberg

Is the American Airlines Arena in Miami or Dallas? What about the American Airlines Center? Or is it Centre?

The countless corporate bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions have made remembering the names of where professional sports teams play more difficult than staying awake for a World Series game.

Just keeping track of the arenas named after airlines is dizzying enough. Besides American, with arenas in Dallas and Miami, there’s Air Canada in Toronto, United in Chicago, Delta in Salt Lake City, Continental in New Jersey and America West in Phoenix, which earlier this week became US Airways Center. Let’s not forget about FedEx, which has a field and forum, though not a fieldhouse—that’s in Indiana and belongs to Conseco Inc.

Baseball’s San Francisco Giants once played at Candlestick Park, which they shared with football’s 49ers. That stadium was relabeled 3Com Park, then dubbed San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point before settling in as Monster Park, which is named after some cable outfit.

The Giants then built baseball-only Pacific Bell Park. That became SBC Park, which is due for another name change because of SBC Communication Inc.’s acquisition of AT&T Corp., whose name it will adopt once the deal is completed Nov. 18.

Try to Remember

Across the bay, what started out as the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, in 1997 was replaced by UMAX (a 1998 court decision reinstated the original name), which then became Network Associates Coliseum and is now McAfee Coliseum. Fans are supposed to remember this?

The SBC-AT&T combination will also affect the National Basketball Association champion San Antonio Spurs, who now call the SBC Center home. While we’re on the subject of telecommunications, Washington’s basketball and hockey teams share the MCI Center, which locals have dubbed the phone booth. Other telecoms involved include Alltel (Jacksonville), Bell (Montreal) and Qualcomm (San Diego).

Philadelphia’s Flyers and 76ers once dwelled in an arena called the Spectrum. They then moved into the CoreStates Center. That venue was then renamed after First Union Corp., which bought CoreStates. Another name change ensued after First Union changed its name to Wachovia Corp. Enough already.

`Sick of It’

Don’t even get me started on the Celtics and Bruins, Boston’s basketball and hockey teams, respectively. Both once played at fabled Boston Garden. Next came FleetCenter, which became TD Banknorth Garden, which shouldn’t be confused with TD Waterhouse Centre, not Center, in Orlando, Florida.

``Sports fans are sick of it,’’ said Gary Ruskin, who, along with Ralph Nader, founded Portland, Oregon-based Commercial Alert, a consumer watchdog group. ``Sports has become over-commercialized.’’

Direct your complaints to the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills. The team in 1973 opened the floodgates by accepting $60,000 a year from the poultry processor Louis Rich, which now falls under the Kraft Foods Inc. umbrella. Nowadays, teams get an average of about $3 million a year for their building’s name.

When the Louis Rich deal expired in 1998, the stadium was renamed in honor of team owner Ralph Wilson Jr., who rejected a plea from fans to name it for former Bills player Bob Kalsu, the only pro athlete killed in the Vietnam War.

Quick: where do the Baltimore Ravens play? Time’s up. M&T Bank Stadium sound familiar? That grabber replaced PSINet, an Internet-services company that has since gone bankrupt.

Economic Realities

Most fans recognize the economic realities that prompt football’s Texans to play at Reliant Stadium, named for Houston- based Reliant Energy Inc. Perhaps companies like Reliant, which agreed to shell out $300 million over 20 years, should pay up front. That way, no matter what happens, fans won’t have to get used to another name and city workers will be spared putting up new street signs.

Remember Enron Field, where the Houston Astros play? It’s now Minute Maid Park. In St. Louis, what began as the TWA Dome, which was named after failed Trans World Airlines, became the Dome at America’s Center and is now the Edward Jones Dome, which is named after a brokerage firm.

According to Philadelphia-based Front Row Marketing Services, which negotiates and evaluates naming-rights contracts, U.S. Cellular—which has its name on the home of the White Sox’s stadium in Chicago—received the equivalent of $3.1 million worth of advertising during the World Series. Alltel got $17 million during last season’s Super Bowl, while SBC received almost $8 million during the NBA Finals.

Holdouts

Let’s extend kudos to the traditionalists in Denver, who refuse to call the Broncos’ stadium Invesco Field at Mile High. It’s still just Mile High to them, even though the team sold out for $120 million over 20 years.

Three cheers for Knicks and Rangers owner Jim Dolan, who promises Madison Square Garden won’t ever be called anything else, even though some estimate he could pocket $500 million in naming rights. A salute to football fans in Chicago, whose outrage stopped the Bears from selling naming rights to Soldier Field, a memorial to the veterans of World War I.

Now if only George Steinbrenner can resist the temptation to help defray his payroll, the highest in baseball. American Airlines Field at Yankee Stadium? Say it ain’t so.

Comments

  1. Posted by mike on November 18th, 2005

    It’s absolutly pathetic what is and has been happening.
    While it’s all over America it is now happening in England.
    Stadiums with one name for over a hundred years has now suddenly changed.
    The way to stop this as consumers is to boycott the company which renames your/our stadiums.
    If this happened no compnay in England or America will want to change the name.

  2. Posted by Mike on November 28th, 2005

    When will everyone accept the fact that professional sports are big business. The commercialization of sports has been a trend for many years. Commercialization is now creeping into high school sports. The sale of stadium naming rights is just one more way that professional sports gets into the pockets of consumers. If team owners pay for stadiums out of their own pockets, I suppose they have the right to name the stadium whatever they wish.  However, in the unfortunate cases where taxpayers pay for stadiums, the naming rights must be sold to the highest bidder to reduce the taxpayers’ burden.

    What we all should really be concerned with is the tens of billions of dollars flowing from consumers to team owners and players, which is a terribly wasteful allocation of our society’s resources

  3. Posted by Mike on November 28th, 2005

    We should thank the companies that pay millions to have their names on stadiums. 

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