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What's in a name?

by Craig Edwards

Posted on September 21, 2007 at 4:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:41 PM

By Craig Edwards

Fall is a great time of year if you're a sports guy. The NFL and College Football are in full swing, with the NBA, NHL and college basketball not far behind. Getting ready for the season, I flipped through the Hockey News 2007-08 yearbook, only to read a fact that has barely registered with me before.

The Phoenix Coyotes play their home games in the Arena.

Is this what the sports world has come to? Friends, we must stand together against horribly awful names for sports arenas and stadiums.

I'm not going to be naive and say we must ban all corporate names. Unfortunately, they aren't going anywhere because of how much money they make teams. Naming rights often cover stadium maintenance costs for many ballclubs.

However, the names don't have to be awful. Here's a few easy guidelines teams and corporations can use in naming their buildings:

1. Names should be three spoken words or less

This is not limited to corporate names. "The Palace at Auburn Hills" (in Detroit) doesn't exactly flow rapidly off the tongue. Next AFL season, the Georgia Force will move into "The Arena at Gwinnett Center" (my fingers have cramped up just typing those names). However, the corporate names are the worst offenders. The Florida Panthers' home building was once known as The National Car Rental Center. The Arizona Cardinals now play at The University of Phoenix Stadium. Trust me, less is more when it comes to a name.

2. The Name must sound good in Trash Talk

A few years back, when the Baltimore Ravens' stadium was called PSINet Stadium, Ray Lewis was talking to reporters about the Pittsburgh Steelers. While not an exact quote, he said something along the lines of "Let's see what happens when they bring that down to P-S-I Net!" I nearly fell over laughing. Folks, if Ray Lewis can't make your name sound tough, there's probably not a whole lot of inherent toughness there. In fact, this might be a good second career for Ray once he's done with football. In retrospect, PSINet should have probably used all that money they paid for naming rights to keep themselves from going bankrupt, which happened in 2001.

3. One arena or ballpark per corporate name

This is a real bad one nowadays. Say you lived in Houston, and wanted to check out a Rockets game at the Toyota Center. If you aren't paying attention, you could get bad directions and actually end up in my old stomping grounds of the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington, which also has an arena called the Toyota Center. There's the Pepsi Center in Denver, and the Pepsi Arena in Albany. But no one's as bad as American Airlines. The 2006 NBA Finals started in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. After game 2, the series moved to the American Airlines Arena in Miami. A higher up at American joked that he didn't care who won the series, just as long as it went seven games.

4. Pick a name and stick with it

It used to be that I could name every NFL, MLB, NBA & NHL home venue by heart. Not any more. These buildings change their names faster than Britney Spears changes....Actually, in the interest of taste, I'll stop the analogy right there and call it good. Anyways, we're seeing way too many name changes. I don't care if Verizon bought out MCI, the name of the home for the Washington Capitals and Wizards should still be the MCI Center. The previously mentioned Florida Panthers building has been known as the National Car Rental Center, the Office Depot Center, and now the BankAtlantic Center... and that's just in 8 years. Your name is your name. You sign the deal, you have to live with it.

Sports owners, please take my advice. By following these simple tips, we can eliminate awful arena names, and create a better sporting world for all.