Saturday, July 05, 2008

What's in a name

I alluded to this in one of my posts during the NBA playoffs. I alluded to the fact that the TD Banknorth Garden is always just going to be the Bahstin Gahden to me.

Always.

The Gahden is the home of the Celtics, the Bruins, and the Bean Pot.

You have the Old Gahden and the New Gahden. But it will never be the Banknorth Garden to me.

Not because I have something against corporate naming of a stadium, but because of some displaced thought that it ruins the game, or some aspect of the game. No, for the most part, it doesn't bother me - sure 3Com Park doesn't have the ring or the charm of Candlestick Park, but people need to remember, corporate naming is not a new thing. Where do they think Wrigley Park got its name? A little reminder - the same company that brought you the chewing gum.

It wasn't always limited to where a team played either.

The Green Bay Packers were named for the Cheese Packing company that owned the team at the very beginning.

The bottom line is some names work - Gillette, Wrigley, Tropicana Field isn't bad - some don't, but aren't bad when shortened, like Lincoln Financial Field's shortened version - The Linc (although some, like Tropicana being called The Trop, I like that). I don't even mind FedEx Field. But this isn't even about that.

I don't mind the corporate name. I really don't.

My problem is that it's just not where the Celtics or Bruins play.

Try, for a second, to imagine the Red Sox playing at SAIC Stadium at Fenway Park, or the Yankees at Merrill Lynch Stadium. It's not that the names are bad, it just somehow doesn't feel right.

Just something to think about.

8 comments:

the blue state blogger said...

"but people need to remember, corporate naming is not a new thing."

Just because it isn't new doesn't mean it's not lame, and it was just as lame in 1900 as it is now.

Kevin Smith said...

I have to say, my only problem with it is the way it's currently handled - where the rights actually expire...

Like with the Ravens who have successively played at Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards, PSINet Stadium, Ravens Stadium again, and finally M&T Bank Stadium (which doesn't sound good to begin with) without ever moving from the stadium they play in, and all since their 1998 move. I have to admit, that annoys the crap out of me.

But, really, for the new ones that have the corporate naming rights, The Trop isn't bad, Bank One Ballpark doesn't bother me (maybe because of the alliteration), Heinx Field, Gillette Stadium - all not bad, but when you start getting into names like 3Com, and PSINet - those names just don't flow right.

Beyond that - and maybe this is because I covered business for a while - I can't begrudge a team wanting to make a little extra money if someone is willing to shell out a little green to put their name on a sporting arena.

the blue state blogger said...

"Beyond that - and maybe this is because I covered business for a while - I can't begrudge a team wanting to make a little extra money if someone is willing to shell out a little green to put their name on a sporting arena."

I hate the whole effin' business of it. You mean to tell me that the Indians ownership was so broke they had to change a cool name like Jacobs Field-"The Jake"-to "Progressive Field?" Please! And what are they DOING with all that extra coin, hmmm? I'll tell you one thing they're NOT doing: trying to re-sign C.C. Sabathia. No wonder fans get disgusted.

Just another example of the insidious corporate intrusion into everything we do. It makes me sick that I can't even watch a ballgame without being reminded of insurance, for Christ's sake, or orange juice or software. I mean, "McAfee Coliseum?" Yeah, right.

Kevin Smith said...

It has nothing to do with being broke. Do you do your job out of the good of your heart, or do you get a paycheck?

All things being the same, wouldn't you want to get paid more for your work?

I'm not thrilled by the system, but ultimately, an owner's responsibility is to his bottom line - that's his job. Ideally that person should also be concerned about how that meshes with a responsibility to the fans, but the first concern has to be how to make the extra dollar.

If I'm a business owner, my first concern in relation to the customer is how do I keep them coming back and lining my pockets. My only concern in relation to an issue that might annoy some customers, is whether or not the money made on the venture outweighs the money lost on the alienated patrons. If there are other patrons lined up to take their place, then I have nothing to worry about whatsoever. If, as a business man, it isn't about the bottom line, then that business man isn't going to be in business very long.

Do you really think the Sox ownership group is concerned about the long-time fan when they charge $26 for bleacher seats? That's nearly a 300 percent increase in the last decade. Ask yourself something - why is it the Sox have the highest cost involved in going to see a game? Considering they're atop league attendance every year, the size of the ballpark is a crock.

However, it seems like a lot of the teams that have sold stadium naming rights have managed to keep ticket costs lower despite lower attendance and less impressive cable network deals than the Sox have.

I'll live with the naming rights issue, I just won't be thrilled by it.

the blue state blogger said...

"It has nothing to do with being broke. Do you do your job out of the good of your heart, or do you get a paycheck?"

It's hardly the same thing.

"Ideally that person should also be concerned about how that meshes with a responsibility to the fans, but the first concern has to be how to make the extra dollar."

No, his first concern is to make enough money to keep the business going and pay himself a reasonable salary, commiserate with the service he provides. Beyond that, it's simple materialistic greed. It's the mindless, endless, souless pursuit of the "extra dollar" that makes whores out of people-the same people who sell naming rights not to put the best product on the field but to line their pockets-and I'm not naive or stupid. Believe me when I tell you I include the Sox ownership group in this-they are the biggest prostitutes on the face of the planet, but at least they're smart about it. Same with Bob Kraft.

We'll just have to disagree on this point, apparently. There's more to life than money, and I can back myself up there. This is coming from someone who is making 2/3 in my present job of what I could make elsewhere, but stay for the quality of life issues. .

Kevin Smith said...

In the corporate world success isn't measured by making "enough money to keep the business going and pay himself a reasonable salary." If that's all you do, you generally are living hand-to-mouth, and are more likely to close doors.

Part of the reason that the corporate goal is to make big profits is in order to weather downturns in a company's economic fortunes. The concept of quality of life for a corporation is about taking care of its employees, and the only way to do that is to maximize profits without cutting employee benefits.

LL Bean doesn't exactly offer the most reasonable prices, but that's part of the reason the company has been able to offer everything that it has to its employees.

I'm not advocating for a Wal-Mart or McD's that treat the low ends of the work force like trash in order to clear big profits, but I also get that success in business is determined by the bottom line, not by being able to make "enough money to keep the business going and pay himself a reasonable salary."

If that were the case, the Sox wouldn't be worth close to a billion dollars, nor would any other business. I'm also not saying that wouldn't be nice - if businesses weren't worth those big dollars, we also wouldn't be paying big money for things like Celtics, Patriots and Sox tix, big money at the gas pumps, for homes, or anything else.

And for the record - If I had my way, I'd be living in Portland right now, not on the Potomac.

the blue state blogger said...

"but I also get that success in business is determined by the bottom line"

Because that's a CULTURAL value we assign to it, not an absolute truth, (beyond what is needed to keep the business healthy and provide everyone with a living.)

Kevin, like I said-I just don't subscribe to that worldview, nor do I agree that it's necessary for businesses to squeeze every last dime out of their workers and their customers in order to be successful. Most of the time, in this world, "maximizing proftis" means taking it out of the hide of your employees and customers and giving it to your senior executives and largest shareholders. Period. Now, I don't have anything against making money, but I DO have something against the all-American assumption that insane profits that produce billionaires (oftentimes with no real benefit to the employee or the customer, or at least a benefit that pales in comparison-there's never been ANY solid evidence to support the old adage that a rising tide always lifts all boats) that is all that's important, or the only measure of success.

"And for the record - If I had my way, I'd be living in Portland right now, not on the Potomac."

Well, we'd love to have you!

Kevin Smith said...

Honestly, I think the system is flawed. There's got to be a better way.

However, what I'm trying to say is that I can't begrudge a business for trying to excel in the system they've been given. Sure, that's a little more concise than I was putting it, but that's part of the idea I was trying to convey.

BTW - when I first moved from Boston in 1999, my wife and I were trying to find jobs in Portland. Due to a lack of openings in our career fields (web design, journalist/educator), we ended up in Philly, and eventually here.

We keep an eye on Maine real estate with the idea that we will eventually retire there.