Growing up near Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to see many football and baseball games at the “Vet.” Veterans Stadium was named by the Philadelphia City Council as an homage to all war veterans – pretty cool. No corporate sponsorship, no big money for naming rights, just an all American thing to do.
NFL stadiums back in the day had great names that just seemed to fit the teams. Remember when the Redskins played at RFK? Or when the 49ers played at Candlestick? And it wasn’t so long ago when good old Jerry Jones’ Cowboys played in a stadium named after them? But even the All American businessman couldn’t pass up an extra $17-19 million per year just to hang a couple of circle logos on top of the retractable roof.
Today’s stadium names often have nothing to do with the team. The Superdome in Louisiana sold its name to German automaker Mercedes-Benz. Sure, Saints owner Tom Benson owns Mercedes dealerships in the New Orleans and San Antonio areas but our guess is the Benz is not exactly the automobile of choice for local pelican staters.
We started going through the list of teams and realized most were un-namable. The old Joe Robbie? Sun Life Stadium. The Coluseum in Oakland? O.co. They couldn’t even afford the “m” for the dot com! Cleveland Browns Stadium? No more as the naming rights are owned by FirstEnergy.
Some of the blame can certainly be placed on the demand for new stadiums. As fans demand greater amenities and 21st century features, teams require more revenue to support the improved structures. Levi’s Stadium, the most recent NFL stadium, came in at a cost of $1.3 billion. Well, $220+ million will be paid by Levi Strauss & CO over the next 20 years. That’s a big chuck of change!
But not every team has caved to corporate naming rights. The Bears still play at Soldier Field and the Packers continue their tradition at Lambeau. The Kansas City Chiefs have remained at Arrowhead for more than 40 years and the Atlanta Falcons still call the Georgia Dome home.
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