I understand why baseball stadia and sports arenas have corporate names attached to them. These corporate sponsors are paying millions of dollars to be the arena’s official name, which means that their product’s name will be advertised on every ticket sold at that arena, it will appear in advertising for concerts and for sporting events and for everything else.
And in return, the revenue generated from that sponsorship agreement often goes back to the county or to the city or to help defray the costs of the bonds attached to the construction of the building. Trust me, sports arenas and baseball stadia are expensive. Hell, some cities are still financing these buildings long after the teams have moved out of them.
Naming your sports facility after a product or a sponsor is nothing new. The Chicago Cubs have played at Wrigley Field for over 100 years, and yes we all understand that their owner was a man named Wrigley, and that Wrigley owned a chewing gum company, so yeah, Wrigley Field has its name and will always be named as such. In football you have Heinz Field and Levi’s Stadium and Gillette Stadium and that’s understood.
But those branding extensions don’t last forever. Case in point. The old Philadelphia sports arena, home of the 76ers and Flyers, was known as the Spectrum. Classy name. But then the teams moved into a new building, which, thanks to its corporate sponsor’s mergers and whatnot, has been named, at various times in the past 20+ years, the CoreStates Center, the First Union Center, the Wachovia Center, and now the Wells Fargo Center.
That’s nothing compared to where the Miami Dolphins play. In the past 30 years, they’ve played their home games at Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium (one dolphin, not many dolphins), Land Shark Stadium, Dolphin Stadium (the dolphin moved back in, I guess), Sun Life Stadium, New Miami Stadium and (currently) Hard Rock Stadium. Wow, imagine the guys who had to update the signage every season.
But here’s the other issue about stadium naming rights. These names are not permanent. They’re up for renegotiation and renewal. And when American Airlines announced that they would no longer sponsor the naming rights for the Miami Heat’s arena, which the airline has sponsored for 20 years. The arena owners are now looking for someone willing to front $6 million per year to have their name attached to the building.
Over the weekend, a Miami-based company submitted a bid of $10 million / year to be the arena’s new corporate sponsor.
That’s right. Bang Bros, a film studio that makes films that … well … um … hell, we’re all adults here, they make adult movies. Bang Bros not only offered $10 million/year, they offered to rename the building as the Bang Bros Center, or the “BBC.” And no, I don’t mean “BBC” as British Broadcasting Corporation, go look the damn term up in the damn Urban Dictionary.
So yeah. You could have a performance of Disney on Ice at the Bang Bros Center. You get to explain that to the children.
Hey, don’t laugh too hard. I’ve seen sports organizations hustle for any sort of financial remuneration, and it doesn’t matter where the money comes from. And it’s not the first time a porn company has intertwined itself with a sports team or league. Another porn outlet, the Internet porn site RedTube, is the jersey sponsor for an amateur soccer team in Massachusetts. No, I do not know if they play their home games at the Combat Zone.
And this brings me to the one sports arena whose naming rights sponsor has plenty of chutzpah.
That would be our own Times Union Center.
Follow me on this. What was originally the Knickerbocker Arena was completed in 1990, and was the brainchild of Albany County Executive Jim Coyne. The Albany Times Union newspaper battled Coyne left and right on the construction of the project, they ran Coyne through the wringer during Coyne’s federal trial on kickback charges, and they gleefully printed updates as Coyne went to prison. Still, the Knickerbocker Arena was built and it looked marvelous. A few years later, the arena received corporate sponsorship and became the Pepsi Arena. And then, after all that, the Times Union – who had chastised Coyne for getting the arena built through any means necessary – gleefully stepped up to be the building’s corporate sponsor.
That’s the Times Union. Always Being Classy.
It’s one of the reasons why, if someone asks me about an upcoming event, I’ll say, “It’s at the Arena,” or, “It’s downtown.” Just because the Times Union has to put their Times Union name on the Times Union Center doesn’t mean I have to officially call it by that name.
And if you’re having trouble remembering the name of the building your favorite sports team resides at, just do like I do.
Call it by its given name. It’s Comiskey Park. It’s Jacobs Field.
In other words, nobody’s paying you to call a building by its corporate name. And until they do, you can call it the nick nack paddy-whack give a dog a bone arena, for all that matters.
But this Bang Bros Center … I wonder if this means we could end up with a home and away series with a team that plays their home dates at the newly branded Larry Flynt Fieldhouse?
Someone who comes up with that idea must have some serious stroke.
Yeah, you saw what I did there.