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Delta Air Lines held the naming rights to the main indoor arena in Salt Lake City from 1991 to 2006.
The same arena was renamed EnergySolutions Arena in late 2006. Temporary signage covered up the previous Delta Center logo after the new naming rights sponsor was announced.

Naming rights are the right to name a piece of property, either tangible property or an event, usually granted in exchange for financial considerations. Institutions like schools, places of worship and hospitals have a tradition of granting donors the right to name facilities in exchange for contributions. Securing the naming rights for stadiums, theaters, and other public gathering places is seen by companies as a form of advertising, and naming rights deals worth millions of dollars have been made.

Contents

History

Stadium naming rights in North America may have begun when the Anheuser-Busch company in 1953 proposed re-naming Sportsman's Park, occupied by the St. Louis Cardinals, "Budweiser Stadium". When this idea was rejected by Ford Frick, the Commissioner of Baseball at that time, Anheuser-Busch then proposed the title "Busch Stadium" after one of the company's founders. The name was readily approved and Anheuser-Busch released a product called "Busch Bavarian Beer" (now known as Busch Beer). The name would later be shifted to the Busch Memorial Stadium in 1966, shortened in the 1970s to "Busch Stadium" and remained the stadium's name until it closed in 2005. By that time, Major League Baseball's policy had changed – with Coors Field in Denver and Miller Park in Milwaukee going up in that span – and Anheuser-Busch (who retained the naming rights after selling the team) was able to use the same name for the Cardinals' new stadium which opened in April 4, 2006.

Another early example is when the New England Patriots of the National Football League sold the rights to name the stadium that they had constructed in Foxborough, Massachusetts in 1970-1971 to the Schaefer brewery.

The public reaction to this practice is mixed. Naming rights sold to new venues have largely been accepted, especially if the buyer has strong local connections to the area, such as the case of Rich Stadium in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, and Coors Field in Denver. Selling the naming rights to an already-existing venue has been notably less successful, as in the attempt to rename Candlestick Park in San Francisco to 3Com Park. The general public (and some media outlets) continued to call the facility what it had been known as for over three decades – Candlestick Park. After the agreement with 3Com expired, the rights were resold to Monster Cable, and the stadium was renamed Monster Park. San Francisco voters had the final say; they passed an initiative in the November 2004 elections that stipulates that the facility's name will revert to Candlestick Park once the current naming rights contract expires in 2008. The initiative is largely ceremonial: it would not apply to a new stadium, which the 49ers are currently planning to build.

Sports stadiums with naming rights deals are not limited to the United States. "Named" stadiums can be found in countries including Australia, Japan, China, Finland, Canada, and Israel. The practice is widening in the United Kingdom; for instance the current stadium of Bolton Wanderers is the Reebok Stadium and Arsenal Football Club's new stadium for the 2006/2007 season is the Emirates Stadium, their previous ground being Arsenal Stadium. In cricket the most famous example is The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. It has had several sponsors over the years, and is currently known as "The Brit Oval", having originally been known as the "Kennington Oval", the district of London in which it is.

The record for the highest amount paid for naming rights belongs to Citi Field (opened in 2009) and Barclays Center (scheduled to open in 2011), both located in New York City. Each garnered deals of $20 million per year for at least 20 years, totaling $400 million.[1] The new, shared home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, which is currently under construction in East Rutherford, New Jersey is expected to eclipse both deals, with experts estimating it will value $25-30 million annually.[2]

Examples of termination

In a few cases, naming rights contracts have been terminated prematurely. Such terminations may be the result of contractual options, sponsor bankruptcy, or scandals. Some examples:

  • In 1986, Villanova University opened a new on-campus basketball arena, du Pont Pavilion; the facility was largely financed by John du Pont, a member of the wealthy and influential du Pont family. When he was found guilty in the 1996 murder of Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz, Villanova, with the tacit permission of the family, stripped du Pont's name from the facility, which is now known simply as The Pavilion.
  • The TD Garden in Boston has carried 35 different names since its construction was announced in 1993.
    • Originally named Shawmut Center, this was changed to FleetCenter after Fleet Bank purchased the former Shawmut Bank. This change occurred in 1995, before the arena was officially opened later in the year.
    • After Fleet was purchased by the conglomerate Bank of America in 2004, the naming rights were purchased from Bank of America by the owner and operator of the arena, Delaware North Companies.
    • During the search for a long-term naming rights deal, Delaware North Companies auctioned daily naming rights on internet auction site eBay. The price for one day of naming rights averaged $3,000 (US). From February 10 to March 13, 2005, the arena had a different name almost every day (a legitimate offer to have the arena named Derek Jeter Center in honor of the Yankees shortstop in the heart of Red Sox Nation as a joke for a day was nixed, but the arena was known for two days as Yankees Suck Center).
    • After this period, the arena was named YourGarden.
    • On March 3, 2005, Maine-based TD Banknorth, the U.S. subsidiary of Toronto-Dominion Bank, announced its purchase of the naming rights. They chose TD Banknorth Garden, which had already been the name of the arena for two days during the period of daily naming rights, with garden being used to evoke the memory of the former Boston Garden that once stood on Causeway Street and was the home of Boston Celtics teams that won 16 NBA Championships and Boston Bruins teams that won 5 Stanley Cups.
    • In July 2009, the arena was renamed TD Garden.
  • Major League Baseball's Houston Astros faced a crisis in 2002 when Enron collapsed in one of the greatest business scandals in American history, as the team had signed a naming rights contract to name its new stadium Enron Field. The team hastily bought out the rest of Enron's 30-year naming rights contract and went to great extents to remove all evidence of Enron's presence in the park. For the rest of the year, the facility was known as Astros Field. The following year, the facility was renamed Minute Maid Park after a new deal was signed with The Coca-Cola Company, whose Minute Maid division is headquartered there. In 2005, Minute Maid bought 8.5% of the team's assets, and now partially owns it.
  • The multipurpose venue in Washington, D.C. that opened as the MCI Center became the Verizon Center after Verizon acquired MCI Worldcom in the wake of the Worldcom scandal.
  • The Tennessee Titans of the National Football League faced a similar crisis in 2002 when Adelphia Communications went bankrupt in the midst of a similar financial scandal; its stadium was then known as Adelphia Coliseum. However, because Adelphia had missed a required payment in its naming rights deal, the Titans were able to exit the contract without financial penalties, although the team did have to spend money to remove Adelphia signage. The stadium became known simply as The Coliseum for the next four years, before naming rights were acquired by Louisiana-Pacific (LP Field) in 2006.
  • Less than a mile away, the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League sold the naming rights of Nashville Arena to the Gaylord Entertainment Company (part-owners of the team) in 1999, only to have the deal terminated in 2005 when Gaylord divested its share of the team and subsequently missed a required payment. Despite this, the arena continued to be called Gaylord Entertainment Center for two more years, when the Predators decided to remove Gaylord's signage and officially revert the name to Nashville Arena. They quickly resold the naming rights to Sommet Group and the arena was renamed Sommet Center As of November 25, 2009, the Nashville Predators have dropped the Sommet group.
  • The utility company Edison International chose in 2003 to exercise an option to exit the naming rights deal it had signed to place its name on the stadium originally known as Anaheim Stadium. The facility was then renamed Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
  • In 2004, the new basketball arena at the University of Missouri was renamed almost immediately after it opened. The facility was first named Paige Sports Arena after Paige Laurie, the daughter of two major donors to the university. After allegations of academic fraud against her at the University of Southern California (which she attended instead of Missouri) surfaced, her parents removed her name from the arena, which is now known as Mizzou Arena.
  • The stadium in Miami Gardens that hosts the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins was originally named Joe Robbie Stadium, after the owner of the Dolphins who built the stadium with private funds. Eventually the stadium was renamed Pro Player Stadium, because the Pro Player brand division of Fruit of the Loom bought the naming rights. In 2005, the stadium was renamed Dolphins Stadium, after the Fruit of the Loom company was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway in 2006, and was changed to Dolphin Stadium. In 2009, it was renamed LandShark Stadium.
  • The home ice of the Florida Panthers has gone through four different names in the seven years of its existence, first going by the Broward County Civic Arena for a short time before National Car Rental bought naming rights and had the arena renamed the National Car Rental Center until 2002. After this a new company stepped in and again the arena was renamed as the Office Depot Center. After a year where the arena stayed mostly vacant because of the NHL lockout, Office Depot withdrew its name, and in 2005, the arena became the BankAtlantic Center, named after that bank.
  • Another example came when CoreStates Bank bought the naming rights to what had been known as "Spectrum II" that would serve as the home of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers in 1995, renaming it the CoreStates Center. CoreStates was merged into First Union Bank, and became the "First Union Center", or was nicknamed "The F.U. Center", named after the first letters of "fuck you" in 1998 because of Philadelphia sports fans' hardscrabble attitude toward their teams, which made a Flyers player remark that it would become "a circus venue" had an alternate name, the First Union National Bank Center (or "F.U.N. Center") been chosen. Finally, after First Union's merger with Wachovia in 2003, the name was changed again to Wachovia Center. The name is expected to change again by mid-2010 due to Wells Fargo buying out Wachovia.
  • The Baltimore Ravens' home field was named PSINet Stadium in 1999, after having opened the previous year without a name. The name stayed until 2002, when PSINet declared bankruptcy, and the stadium was once again nameless, although it was often referred to as Ravens Stadium. At one point, a proposal was made to rename the stadium after Baltimore Colts great Johnny Unitas, but that plan fell through, and in 2003, the stadium's new name was M&T Bank Stadium, when said bank acquired the naming rights. Johnny Unitas Stadium is now the home field for the Towson Tigers football team.
  • The Carolina Panthers' home field was once known as Ericsson Stadium, but in 2004, it changed its name to Bank of America Stadium. The company who purchased the naming rights, Bank of America, has its corporate headquarters in the Uptown section of Charlotte, North Carolina; the building where the bank is headquartered, appropriately enough, is called the Bank of America Building, located on the corner of Trade and Tryon Streets, known locally as The Square. It is currently the tallest building in Charlotte.
  • The home ground of the Cronulla Sharks NRL team, originally known as Endeavour Field (to 1984) became Ronson Field (1985-86), reverted to Endeavour 1987, then Caltex Field (1988-95), then Shark Park (1996-99), currently Toyota Park.
  • On May 7, 2004, Ameriquest Mortgage acquired the naming rights to The Ballpark in Arlington, the home of MLB's Texas Rangers for 30 years. Ameriquest changed the name to Ameriquest Field in Arlington. In March 2007, the company made a deal with Tom Hicks (the owner of the Rangers) to cancel the rest of the 30-year naming rights contract. The park was renamed Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
  • The Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, was renamed the Mellon Arena after then-Pittsburgh based Mellon Financial bought the naming rights to the arena in 1999. The arena retained the name in 2007 after Mellon merged with the Bank of New York to form Bank of New York Mellon. The naming rights agreement is set to expire in 2009 and is not expected to be renewed since the Penguins will move into the Consol Energy Center for the 2010--11 NHL season, with the Mellon Arena scheduled for demolition afterwards.
  • The Ottawa Senators home arena in Kanata was originally known as the Palladium, until naming rights were sold to Corel Corporation. The building was known as the Corel Centre from 1996 until 2005, when an agreement was made with Scotiabank. The building is now referred to as Scotiabank Place.

Other examples

American Airlines has purchased naming rights for two sporting venues: the American Airlines Arena in Miami and the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

While the highest prices have traditionally been paid for stadium rights, many companies and individuals have found that selling their naming rights can be an important consideration in funding their business. In the last few years many new categories have opened up, such as the selling of the rights to name a new monkey species for $650,000.

Naming rights to public transit stations have been sold in Las Vegas. Such sales have been contemplated in New York[3] and Boston, and ruled out in San Francisco.[4] A sponsorship for the MBTA's State Street station by Citizens Bank lasted from 1997 to 2000.

Social connotations

In some places, and especially in the UK, the naming or renaming of arenas or events is often met with disapproval from the general public. Younger people see it as an example of a selling out,[5][6][7][8][9] especially when they see no obvious benefit to themselves. They often refuse to use a new name, preferring instead to use a non-branded name, especially in colloquial situations. Among older people, re-branding can lead to confusion.[10] In such cases, there may be a lengthy period during which the property is known by both names.

See also

References

External links








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