When I was a kid, you knew the names of the ballparks in which MLB teams played.
For example, if I was asking my friend Al where the Yankees would be the next weekend, he would say “Comiskey Park.”
Right away, I would know the Yankees were going to Chicago to do battle with the Chicago White Sox.
Today, if we were talking and I asked him the same question, he would say “U.S Cellular Field.” Huh? Let’s see, that is Detroit right? No, wait a minute that’s Comerica.
Oh, must be the Giants. Wait, this isn’t interleague time yet. Giants? That is AT&T. Too many phone companies. Do you get my meaning?
Whatever happened to the team playing in the name of the stadium? If I said Briggs Stadium or Tiger Stadium, people knew right away that I was referring to Detroit. If I had said Shibe Park or Connie Mack Stadium they knew I was referring to the Philadelphia Phillies (or A’s). Citizens Bank Park—now that is a name for a stadium isn’t it? Banks, communication companies, automobile manufacturers, they are all the rage.
Look, I understand that if a big-time company comes into your office with an Armani suit and a leather briefcase with a diamond latch on it, you are going to listen to what they say. Especially if you know that they are willing to part with about $50M—that is $50,000,000. A-Rod would actually have to play two years to make that kind of money.
That kind of money for an eight- or nine-year lease is hard to turn down, I understand.
Just think if Crosley Field or Forbes Field were called something else in the ‘60s. Maybe Crosley Field would have been Hudepohl Park. The Pirates could have played in Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Stadium.
This name “pimping” isn’t forever either—they are temporary leases. Remember when AT&T was Pacific Bell Park, home of the San Francisco Giants? Get it all straight in your mind and then everyone changes to something else.
One could argue that it has been going on for decades. Busch Stadium in St. Louis has been the home of the Cardinals and former home of the Browns forever. But, old man Busch owns the team, the field and everything. So he has all the advertising built in. You always knew Busch Stadium housed the St. Louis Cardinals.
I think Wrigley Field is going to be Wrigley Field until Jesus comes back. The same thing applies to Fenway Park. These venues have tradition steeped into their very fibers. It would almost be tantamount to sacrilege to any Bostonian to have the sacred place called anything else.
It would be hard to imagine the Yankees playing anywhere except Yankee Stadium, even if it is a modern, home-run friendly variation. Could you imagine them playing at the Metropolitan Life Center? Please.
Stadium owners and city managers are so swift to sell-out to the highest dollar that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start naming streets and avenues after corporations and other local businesses.
Excuse me sir, could you show me the way to Network Associates Coliseum?