Friday, October 05, 2007

Naming Rights

"On a practical level, we're getting awfully late in the game where we wouldn't have enough time to order and install the signage in time for opening day. We'll get there. The important thing is to have the right deal instead of the quick deal." So says The Owner of Our Washington Nationals on the real possibility that New Nationals Park will go CORPORATE NAMELESS for 2008. That quote from Ted Lerner in today's issue of The Washington Business Journal (link is for subscribers only to WBJ--so it might not work for you).

That's OK with me.

Never have I cared about Naming Rights
placed on any ballpark. Never does any corporate sponsor sway my interest in their products. Many others, surely must feel the same way. DC & later RFK Stadium was fine with me. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is fine with me, also. Standard & Poors Yankee Stadium, or Wachovia Field at Fenway would NEVER BE ACCEPTABLE to me (if either The Yankees or The Red Sox ever lowered themselves to such a standard). Can you imagine Sony Stadium at Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles)?

Awful!! Just Awful!!

Naming rights for Stadiums and Arenas are just SILLY. Sure, many corporations out there, obviously, feel a ballpark with their name hanging all over an edifice--helps their image and bottom line. But, honestly, I don't think people really care. Do you? Names on Ballparks so expected today--the practice has lost it luster.

Because The Washington Redskins play at FED EX Field--is FED EX the only overnight service used by Fans? Does M&T Bank Stadium get more accounts because The Baltimore Ravens' Fans are so loyal to their team? Never have Sohna and I been impressed with Verizon. So, The Capitals' and Wizards' Verizon Center, does not our phone service make.

We just don't care.

If Our Washington Nationals can get the $8-$10 Million per season--they are reportedly asking for Naming Rights to New Nationals Park--Fine. That's their business.

But, as far as I am concerned--Nationals Park at The Navy Yard is just fine with me--for My Business. Which, is watching and enjoying Major League Baseball.

Whether its GEICO, Northrup Gruman, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, Capital One, Exxon, or "MY NAME HERE" Stadium--whatever product any of these companies promote--The African Queen and I will not be swayed by Their Name on Our New Stadium on South Capitol Street.

Of course--two years after some corporation does get the naming rights deal--said company will probably be bought out. You can BET ON IT. Then, the real silliness begins. Ask The San Francisco Giants--who have seen their Marvelous Ballpark on The Bay be renamed three times--Pac Bell to SBC to AT& T Park.

That's a Triple Play I have no interest in seeing play out at New Nationals Park.

Really, I understand its an idealistic thought. But, Please Mr. Lerner--just keep it simple. Let New Nationals Park at Navy Yard honor Our Team, Our City, Our Baseball History. Not Some Other Corporations History of Financial Greed.


Edward J. Cunningham said...

Interesting thing about the San Francisco Giants. The owner actually considered naming the stadium "The Polo Grounds" after the team's legendary former home in New York. But it wasn't enough to simply do it---he called up Ralph Lauren (as in Ralph Lauren's Polo) and asked him if he wanted to buy a corporate sponsorship. When Lauren was not interested, the Giants struck a deal with Pacific Bell, which was bought by Southwest Bell which bought the remnants of AT&T and renamed themselves again. I think many fans (especially Dodger fans) call that park after the unflattering nickname for AT&T's corporate logo---The Death Star.

Two more owners should be pointed out. Arte Moreno of the Angels bought back the naming rights to Edison Field to name his park Angels Stadium of Anaheim. (Because of the feuding with Anaheim over the name, I predict he will build a new Angels Stadium in Orange County but outside the city of Anaheim so he can name his team whatever he wants.) Also the Texas Rangers bought back the naming rights to Ameriquest Field so their park is now Rangers Ballpark.

I think the Mets had the best idea when their initial name for their new stadium was going to be Mets Ballpark. Perfect counterpoint to "Yankee Stadium" and I could easily see New Yorkers refer to "The Ballpark" the same way they refer to "The Stadium." Unfortunately, they threw that opportunity away by signing that deal with Citibank...

Brandon said...

The point of corporate naming rights isn't so much that you, the consumer, will run right out and buy the company's products. Rather, the goal of naming the stadium is to build brand awareness that you can't get any other way.

Let's take FedEx Field as an example. Now think about the incredible amount of Redskins coverage on the radio, on TV and in print. Since the stadium is named after the FedEx corporation, that company gets an out-of-context ad each and every time someone refers to the stadium. Think about how many additional times a week we hear the name FedEx just because it's the stadium name...there's no way FedEx could ever get that many mentions any other way, no matter how many commercials and other ads they bought.

Even better, you can sometimes get your corporate name to become synonymous with the park, to the point where people exclusively refer to the park by your name. How many times have you heard someone say "The Redskins are playing at FedEx today." We all know that they're referring to the stadium, but we used a corporate name.

In effect, corporate naming makes us all mouthpieces for advertising. It's icky, sure, but also brilliant.

An Briosca Mor said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that because of continuing negative coverage of transportation issues in the Post the Lerners will be forced to give the stadium this name?

Nationals Park. All Others (Including Opponents) Please Take Metro.

Anonymous said...

Who says the corporate name on a stadium doesn't sway fans to their products? I live in San Diego and started eating Alpo sandwiches after they named Petco Park.

Anonymous said...

Had a poll at to name the new Nationals stadium, just thought you might like a look at the results,

SenatorNat said...

How about the combo joled about in 2005: Hebrew National{s} Park at the Navy Yard...Very tasty hot dogs, I may add. And, it would certainly be shortened to The 'Brew - by most regular fans, which, of course, as Mick can attest, goes perfectly with hot dogs.

Trust in American Corporate Merchandizing. All Good.