Posted by: distributorcap | December 18, 2008

Curses Foiled Again

While sports arenas have been sponsorship targets for years, sometimes those names just do not work out. There are so many examples of companies that got into trouble after they named stadiums after themselves. This is known as the Sports Stadium Name Curse. Or something like that.

Currently Citigroup, which just received billions from the Federal Government to remain in business, is shelling out $400 million for a stadium naming deal with the New York Mets. Many people think the old Shea Stadium name should now be changed to Taxpayer Field.

Candlestick Park in San Francisco became 3Com Park in 1995. People hated it, and the next year the name was switched to 3Com Park at Candlestick Point. In 2002 the name was changed to San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point. In 2004, the naming right were sold again, and the stadium was renamed Monster Park (after Monster cable, not monster.com). At one point it was going to be named Bill Walsh Stadium. The Beatles played their last concert at Candlestick Park in 1966.

In 1999, PSINet, a high technology internet provider paid millions to have their name emblazoned on the Baltimore Ravens’ new home. PSINet is no more.

The naming rights of the St. Louis Blues home stadium, the Kiel Center, were sold to Savvis Communications Corp. for 20 years in a cash-and-stock deal then valued at some $72 million. On Aug. 17, 2000, the day the deal was signed, the stock was worth $9.75 per share. By the first week of May 2001, the St. Louis-based Internet and data service provider’s stock was trading around $2 per share.

The Tennessee Titans couldn’t have liked playing in Adelphia Coliseum after the cable company went bankrupt due to massive internal corruption.

The Miami teams – the Dolphins and the Florida Marlins may have thought they were getting a great deal when they sold the naming rights to Joe Robbie Stadium to Pro Player, a company that made sportswear. Pro Player was a division of Fruit of the Loom. Pro Player was liquidated in 1999 as part of a bankruptcy deal. The name Pro Player Stadium stuck until 2005.

Villanova’s basketball arena, the Pavilion, was originally named duPont Pavilion in honor of John Eleuthere duPont, the heir to the chemical family’s fortune and philanthropist. This name sounded great when the arena opened in 1986, particularly since duPont had helped fund the construction. In 1996, duPont, a paranoid schizophrenic, murdered Olympic wrestling gold medalist David Schultz. At that point having the duPont name didn’t sound so good. Following his conviction, the venue’s name changed to just the Pavilion.

When the L.A. Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, they played the first half of their home schedule in Busch Stadium while waiting for their new domed stadium to open. The team then moved into the Trans World Dome, named after Trans World Airlines plunked down the dough. Unfortunately TWA was going bankrupt and in 2001 American Airlines bought the ailing airline. American Airlines didn’t want the naming rights to the stadium, so the name was changed to “Dome at America’s Center” for a season, before brokerage Edward Jones bought the rights in early 2002.

In Boston, the stadium where the New England Patriots play was named after Gillette — but Gillette doesn’t exist anymore — Procter & Gamble bought it in 2005. There was the Fleet Center, home of the Boston Celtics — but Bank of America bought Fleet in 2003. And there was the Tweeter Center, a concert venue named after Tweeter Home Enterprises which filed for bankruptcy.

Denver’s stadium is Invesco Field at Mile High. Invesco was bought by a UK investment firm and dissolved. When the Broncos asked the new owners what they wanted the stadium name to be, they said they had no interest in changing it. So the stadium continues to market the name of a non-existent company.

The stadium where the Philadelphia Sixers and Flyers play has undergone at least three name changes. With the demise of the current naming rights holder, Wachovia, it will probably get a new one. Some people still refer to Wachovia Center as the “F U Center,” after the previous sponsor, First Union bank.

There is University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? The University of Phoenix is not a Division I college team, it is a for-profit national college, famous for its online curriculum, that doesn’t even have a football team. It paid $66 million to have its name on the stadium. Nice to see how your tuition is spent.

CMGI had to pull the plug on its sponsorship of the Patriots’ football stadium before the first game was played there due to financial problems.

The WaMu name on the 5,000-seat theater at Madison Square Garden is likely to change because of the seizure of Washington Mutual by federal regulators earlier this year.

The San Francisco Giants play at Pac Bell Stadium, SBC Stadium, oops AT&T Stadium.

No doubt the most infamous stadium name is Enron Field, successor to the Astrodome. The Astros thought it had pretty much taken care of naming its beautiful new stadium when it signed a 30-year, $100 million deal with the local energy company in 1999. CEO and chairman Ken Lay (Bush’s buddy) threw out the ballpark’s first-ever ceremonial first pitch when the stadium opened in April 2000. After Enron’s 2001 collapse, the name became an embarrassment to the team and its fans. The Astros bought the naming rights back from Enron for $2.1 million, and quickly sold them to Minute Maid for a rumored $100 million-plus over 28 years.

Life was simpler when it was only Yankee, Fenway, Three Rivers, Dodger, Comiskey, Tiger, etc stadiums.

Have I missed any?

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Responses

  1. nicely done

  2. maybe it’s just me, but i think naming stadiums after businesses is just silly. i don’t think it’s good advertising. does anyone buy something because a stadium is named after it? the constant name changes are annoying, especially when trying to find a phone number. p.s. i live in south floriduhhhh, and i had no idea that pro player was the name of a product. i thought they had finally thought of a decent name for a stadium.

  3. I like it when a sports arena has been named after someone (i.e. The Brendan Burne Arena) and thensomeone sells that out (Continental Airline Arena).What do you tell the old family.? “Sorry…It’s just business.”DK

  4. Wachovia Center in Philly doesn’t pay their bills in a speedy fashion, either.I work for one of their vendors, so I know.Hahaahahahahahahahahaha! …that felt SO GOOD!

  5. The San Antonio Spurs used to play at the SBC arena. Now it's the AT&T center, except AT&T took the rest of their corporate marbles and moved them to Dallas.

  6. Boy… that has been a pet peeve of my for years! Candlestick, Kezar, Fenway,Comisky, Wrigley, Lambeau…. the traditional names meant something……….tradition.It is such a relief that they can’t fuck up Lambeau Field….

  7. Mile High Stadium is still called Mile Hi by many.

  8. It is not just an American phenomemon.Toronto has the Roger’s Centre which used to be the Sky Dome; now named for that telecommunications giant, whose founder just died. And my hometown of Ottawa had the Ottawa Palladium which became Corel Centre (named for a local hi-tech company) and which is now Scotiabank Place; Scotiabank being one of Canada’s big banking cartel. In either case, both companies are on pretty strong footing and are not likely to go under soon. The same can’t be said for Montréal’s Bell Centre (or La Centre Bell in French) whose parent company is in financial trouble after a buyout plan collapsed because the buyers don’t believe the company is solvent in the long run.The Saddledome in Calgary is now the Pengrowth Saddledome (How phallic is that?). It was the Canadian Airlines Saddledome until Canadian Airlines was bought out in a hostile takeover by Air Canada. People still call it the Saddledome.

  9. Just so you know, while many Mets fans have taken to calling their new stadium Taxpayer Field, there are many who still remember, William Shea, the man who spearheaded the effort to bring National League baseball back to New York after the Dodgers and the Giants bolted town in the 50s. Like them, I feel that the new stadium should also be named Shea; which makes me wonder if, now that the taxpayers technically own it, a referendum can be placed on next year’s ballot to permanently name it Shea.

  10. I remember when they opened Jacobs Field here and a lot of people weren’t happy with the name. At least it’s the guy who owned the team (such as Comiskey, etc) than what it is now, Progressive (as in the insurance company) field.

  11. Being from St. Louis and a die hard Cardinals fan I'm pleased that the field is still called Busch Stadium. They built a new one and not call it The New Busch Stadium. It's been called that for so long most people don't associate the name with the beer company.When A&B was bought everyone worried about the stadium but the new company swears it won't change the name. Let's hope so.Peace.Matt

  12. As a former DFW resident, I’m wondering what the Cowboys’ new stadium (in Arlington, of all places) will be called. The Ballpark in Arlington was a dorky name, but it’s better than Enron or whatever bankrupt corp you can think of.

  13. Nice post.It hasn’t failed yet, but I’d say US Cellular Field is a pretty crappy name for a ballpark.Wrigley Field, I don’t mind.

  14. The Oakland Coliseum has gone through a couple name changes. It was the Network Associates Coliseum, and then MacAfeee Coliseum, and now it’s back to just the Oakland Coliseum.The Arena next store took a long time to get a sponsor, but now it’s the Oracle Arena.I can accept a company name on a stadium if the company actually pitched in and helped build the thing, like Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium or even Pacific Bell Park. Just putting a name on a stadium annoys the heck out of me, though not as much as sporting events getting bought out, like the Doritos Fiesta Bowl.Gotta go. The kids are back out on the lawn again.

  15. The Braves’ new stadium was named for Ted Turner, who owned the team for decades. We call it “The Ted.” So much nicer than “The Coke” or “The Delta.”

  16. I think even though it’s a religio-corporate name, it’s a good stadium name for a good team in low A ball.SADDLEBACK FIELD. Home of the El Cajon Obamas.

  17. I liked RFK Stadium but new Redskins owner now moved us to FedEx Field which is the kind of seating increase that makes it better for the fan to watch the game at home on TV. The seats that are good are very expensive. But I went to RFK every football season for 15 years so I guess any change would be a negative when it feels like someone stole your baby. Those memories of Sonny, John Riggens and the Riggo drill and others made life in DC appear normal. The old stadium had class!

  18. I Totally agree with One Fly…Mile High was renamed ages ago, but most people would never even consider calling it the “official name”I remember when it happened that the sportscasters screwed it up so many times, and loved it when they actually said how hard it was for the Denver fans to accept the change. Ya got that right buddy! Go Broncos!

  19. Correction, University of Phoenix DOES have a football team, it just happens to be online;) If you have Xbox Live, you can play them yourself. (totally made up of course)So Cap, I was wondering if I could buy the naming rights to your blog.

  20. I like to change names of stadiums. It’s real easy. It doesn’t matter what some corporation calls it if you and everyone you know calls it something else. So start calling it Yankee stadium and tell your friends to do the same. To me it’s Sea Hawk stadium and Mariner Field out here.

  21. Skank Blagojovitch has some dealings with Wrigley field… a true pay to play scheme! Doh!On the college arena front, Uncle Phil Knight) ex NIKE CEO) is building a $225 million dollar basketball Stadium on the U if Oregon campus. In the midst of a recession, building the most expensive college venue in the country seems even more ridiculous. Maybe in the end, it will turn into a deluxe homeless shelter?If they keep on naming Stadiums after successful businesses– we can expect Bankruptcy park, Unemployment Stadium, and Foreclosure field.

  22. thanks to all of you for your comments – and chris you can have naming rights to my blog — and i am cheaper than the Mets

  23. Our Skydome here was named through a contest years ago and was recently renamed as The Rogers Centre but nobody calls it that which I enjoy. A couple of our theatres have changed names 3 times in the last several years so nobody ever knows where the hell things are playing. When Lyle Lovett was here last time, he talked about this whole phenomenon although not as eloquently as you.

  24. Here is a link that raises many unanswered questions relating to the Nike arena at the University of Oregon: http://www.youtube.com/luddite333


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