Major stadiums have names that get said a lot, and so over the last few decades most of those names have been purchased, usually by large companies who think it would be good to have people say their names a lot. This sometimes creates issues, given what might euphemistically be called temporal and objectives mismatches between companies and stadiums.
First, companies tend not to last as long as stadiums. This might seem obvious, but the difference can be starker than you might think. For example, the Houston Astros got a sweet, 30-year naming deal in 1999 for its stadium. Sadly, however, the sponsor was a company called Enron, and only a couple of years later said company no longer existed, for practical purposes. This sort of thing happens fairly regularly, with once-highflying companies no longer in a position to exist, so their naming rights revert or lapse.
Second, fans and even teams are sometimes not such big fans of the companies that bought their stadium’s name. A good example is that of the Philadelphia 76ers, whose owners have long refused to call the place where they play the Wells Fargo Arena, and instead use euphemisms like “the arena where we play”. While impressively passive-aggressive, this does get in the way of Wells Fargo extracting maximum value for its stadium sponsorship. Some companies try to get around local truculence by purchasing naming rights to multiple stadiums, even in the same league, like the way American Airlines has done with rights to both Miami and Dallas.
The most recent example of name game fun is that of United Airlines and its $69-million deal for naming rights to the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum. Under the deal with USC — part of a $270-million renovation — the stadium was to be renamed the United Airlines Memorial Colosseum. This is a strange name, to be fair, sounding more than slightly like it’s a memorial to United Airlines, like United has gone away, which it hasn’t, at least not yet.
Local politicians and veterans aren’t happy, however, arguing that the new name gives short shrift to the key “Memorial” part of the name. The enterprising development people at USC have proposed changing the name, to something more like the United Airlines Field at Memorial Colosseum, which is a) a handful, and b) likely to, in practice, make the United Airlines Field part ignored, which already has United wondering why it should pay $69-million anyway. Perhaps unsurprisingly, United has offered to back out of the whole deal, which is causing more scrambling.
Given all of this, why do companies persist in purchasing naming rights for stadiums? The direct economic rationale is dodgy, given that it’s not because having naming rights adds persistently to company profitability. Instead, it seems to be a combination of corporate ego, stadium owner greed, and small numbers of exclusive goods for sale. All of this suggests that nothing is going to change, and companies will keep purchasing naming rights, which will continue annoying fans, team, and politicians, but producing entertaining Wikipedia articles.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
- One (somewhat bleak) explanation for the Fermi Paradox — why we don’t encounter other signs of life in a vast, old universe — is that maybe civilizations grow, consume everything, and collapse into black holes of their own making
- The fishing industry response to planned protected areas is the rational preemptive overfishing of planned marine reserves
- The world’s biggest sources of energy in 2019 are the same as in 1965: 1) oil; 2) coal; 3) natural gas; 4) hydro; 5) nuclear
- The Economist beat itself up pleasingly for past graphing errors
- Napster founder Sean Parker’s Institute touts early results in pancreatic cancer trial
- It is increasingly clear that many hospital systems are merely host organisms for parasitic species called “out of network doctors”: Surprise medical bills — The doctor is not in your insurance plan
FINANCE & ECONOMICS
- People have the bad habit of weighing their “green” activities against their non-green ones: This is a bad idea, because it harms the environment even though they try to treat it well
- Some fairly staggering examples of Michael Lewis’s line about how “the poor are sharks”: Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow
- About 20 discount airlines have folded in the past year
- The US is seeing a sharp decline in international students as it loses its sheen