Naming wrongs for naming rights

Say what you want about the Metrodome — and we know you will — but you’ve got to give the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission long-overdue credit for one thing: it was always the Metrodome.

It may be one of the last remaining professional sports stadiums in the country that doesn’t have a corporate name, or leave fans with naming “whiplash,” when the name of a landmark is changed after everyone got use to it. It was always the Metrodome.

In Cleveland, last week, another long-time landmark changed names. Jacobs Field, the home of the Cleveland Indians, became Progressive Field, when one of the few remaining Fortune 500 companies still headquartered in the Rust Belt city bought the naming rights.

To be accurate, Jacobs Field was a corporate name. The former owner of the team — Richard Jacobs — named it after his real estate firm. But it sounded more like an old-time name — like Wrigley Field, or even Busch Stadium. Similarly, Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati is another nice baseball name, even though it’s actually an insurance company.

Progressive Field? Nah. People in Cleveland will always refer to it as “The Jake.” The Prog? No. Absolutely not.

The Metrodome — or The Dome — is about to disappear from the consciousness of the Minnesota sports fan, but for the occasional tractor pull and Vikings game — at least until the Vikings open Zygi Park. The Gophers are already building the TCF Bank Stadium, which rolls off the tongue like peanut butter, which means nobody is going to pile the kids in the car with the happy announcement from Dad to “pile in the car and go to the TCF.”

The Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild, is “The X” and probably always will be, even if Acme Light and Power buys the utility which bought the naming rights.

Which leads us to the Minnesota Twins. Given their need to extract every penny they can, the Twins are unlikely to name their new stadium after their owner, which is probably just as well. But what legacy name will they choose? Wrigley, Fenway, The Barn all are immediately recognizable names. Progressive Field? Monster Park? Cisco Field? Please don’t do that to us. It’s baseball, not NASDAQ.

I suppose it’s too far fetched to hope Irwin Jacobs buys the rights? The Jake. Nice.

  • Sam

    Pat Reusse nailed this one a while ago – the perfect marriage of corporate naming rights and a good baseball name. General Mills is your sponsor, and the ballpark becomes Wheaties Field. See? Everyone’s happy…

  • Josh

    Let’s be fair to the ones who really ponied up the dough. It should be called Taxpayer Stadium.