Apple Field ForeverJune 4, 2004
I can't help but find the ongoing naming and re-naming of stadiums, arenas, and ballparks across the country depressing. Our local baseball team, the Texas Rangers, finally joined the rest of the country last month by selling the naming rights to The Ballpark in Arlington, newly christened Ameriquest Field in Arlington. So many of the stadium names are horrendous. How can a baseball team play in a brand-new stadium called Petco Park? Minute Maid Park in Houston is only moderately better. As in Houston, it is also becoming more and more common for a stadium to quickly change names following mergers or bankruptcies involving their corporate sponsors, as when the San Francisco Giants went from Pac Bell Park to SBC Park in a blink of the eye.
I know I am biased by my upbringing, having grown up in Michigan with a corporation-free stadium experience;Tiger Stadium, the Pontiac Silverdome, Joe Louis Arena, the Palace in Auburn Hills, and Spartan Stadium.
I honestly find it hard to imagine that the corporate sponsors reap a significant reward for their investment. Obviously, the name becomes a great part of common culture, but I doubt it impacts their bottom line. I am certainly not going to seek out Ameriquest for my next home mortgage, nor do I look to Great America, PNC, or Comerica for my financial needs. And I would be likely to fly American Airlines with or without their two arenas.
I have two lingering questions, though. First, why have the largest, most-admired, and most profitable companies (i.e. ones I like!) avoided this phenomenon? Why don't the Seahawks play in Microsoft Stadium in Seattle? Why isn't there a Sony Park, Nike Field, Honda Arena, or Fidelity Field? And what could be a better place to take in a ballgame than Apple Field? Can you imagine a stadium with the outside look of an Apple Store, subtle Mac logos throughout the interior, Macs throughout the retail areas and luxury boxes, using iTunes for all the in-game music, and each time the home team hits a home run, the stadium reverberates with the Macintosh start-up cord!
The second question is why hasn't this become more common in amateur stadiums and fields across the country? I know a few high school and Little League stadiums have advertising, but I'm still surprised Ben doesn't play at McDonald's Field, Toys 'R Us Park, or Chuck E. Cheese Stadium. Instead, the poor boy has to to play at Glenwick and Hilltop Parks.
I think this qualifies as my first, official, things were so much better when I was young post!