Naming the Stadiums, Arenas, and Ballparks

June 04, 2004

When I was just a youngster, I took pride in being able to name the stadiums and ballparks of all of the NFL, NBA, and major league baseball teams. Now, I wouldn't place money that I could name any of them.

It's not the corporate naming or all of the new stadium building that threw me. I kept up with the first round of all of that without any trouble. The problem is when corporations change names, fail, or just opt out of their naming right. My tired old brain just couldn't add that additional variable to the mix and keep up. For example, I know that the baseball park in Houston isn't Enron Field any more, but I don't know its new name. And that's the nearest major league park to my home.

I guess that more and more, my brain is acting like an old person's, and that's trouble. It used to bother me that my mom could hear the title "Farris Bueller's Day Off" a thousand times, but still say it back as "Farris Wheeler Takes a Day Off."

I do still manage some retention after something is repeated fifty times or so. Next week, a new edition of "The Amazing Race" is going to start. I can tell that this is the year that I don't call it something like "The Big Race" or "The Great Race" or -- completely giving up on getting it right -- "The Superlative Race."

But enough about me.

Keeping track of these stadiums is a lot tougher now. Which city has United Center and which has American Airlines Center? Which has American Airlines Arena? Wrigley field in Chicago is really named after Mr. Wrigley rather than the chewing gum company that he also started. Ericsson field is named after a Skandinavian company rather than a guy named Ericsson. Who could possibly keep all of that straight? (For answers, check


I'm not sure what Louisiana is waiting for, when it comes to naming the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena. Clearly, corporate naming is in the future. (When you go with "New Orleans Arena," I know that you didn't really even try.) I suspect that the airlines, mobile phone companies, and other industry giants have lost that skill that was once so necessary in business: paying off politicians.

See, they've gotten used to states where they just pay their millions and issue a press release. They don't send the guy here for "negotiations" where the bag full of Benjamins hits the governor's leg under the table. I bet that there are lots of people sitting in posh conference rooms who are just baffled about why their negotiations with Louisiana aren't going any better.