On Your Marc: 9/27

Guaranteed rate

by Marc Katz

A lot of people got a lot of laughs when the Chicago White Sox sold the naming rights to their stadium to Guaranteed Rate, a lending company whose name does not sound all that much better than U.S. Cellular Field, the replacement park for the old Comiskey Park – which used to be across the street.

They tried calling the new place the New Comiskey Park for a while, but that didn’t last. Comiskey was just a long-dead owner promoting nothing but himself and his ball club, which didn’t win very much in the years following the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

These new naming rights usually come with higher ticket prices as well, so don’t think all those banks are investing their bailout money to help you get into a ballgame.

We should be used to this now, and not care as much, especially knowing that for hundreds of dollars a month we can watch all the games we want for “free” on television.

Or a mobile app.

Not.

The funniest part of the Guaranteed Rate name is its logo, which now, I presume, will be pasted on every seat back, scoreboard, and auxiliary scoreboard in the place. The logo is a red arrow inside of a white circle – pointing down.

As someone from the company joked, “We’d like to hope our team ERA does go down.”

You know, either that, or it can be a reminder to check if you remembered to zip your pants.

Hey, commerce is commerce.

I’m counting only nine of the 30 major league ballparks that have not granted naming rights to some corporate entity, including Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park, and 10 that are named after banks or lending services (which you might need to buy a ticket).

Included in that latter group is Great American Ball Park down the road in Cincinnati. At least we can shorten the name to GABP, which looks more like a misspelling than a name. It’s also a mouthful when you say it.

In the NFL, there seem to be even more banks associated with stadiums.

Oh, sure, this was thought of long ago, but not with any foresight, when most owners just named their parks – which they usually built without community funds – after themselves. Cincinnati has one of those as well. It’s Paul Brown Stadium, for now.

If their names also happened to be associated with something else they were selling, so much the better. I give you Wrigley Field in Chicago, Crosley Field in Cincinnati, and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Chewing gum, radios, and beer, all in a row.

Those names lasted a long time (Crosley is gone, but Wrigley and Busch remain operable), though, so if you’re a long-time baseball fan, you might not have to be told in which cities those stadiums are (or were) located.

The rest of the places, you’re going to have to be such a fan you paint your face on game day to know, or just guess. Who plays in PNC Park or Comerica Park or Chase Field? Safeco Field? Is that a bank, loan company, or grocery store? (It’s a Seattle-based insurance company.) And who wants a selfie of him or herself standing in front of a bank logo?

Naming rights have even filtered down to the minor league level.

Did you know there are two Fifth Third Field’s, both in Ohio, one in downtown Dayton, the other in Toledo?

There would have been a third, outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, except Fifth Third Park gets its name because the “Park” part of the outgoing bank sign was in good enough shape to use.

Hey, seriously, some ticket prices are low enough that you can afford them once or twice a year, so if naming rights is the way to get there, do it.

Colleges and universities have been a little slower to react, but if you donate enough money, you can get something done.

When the Schottenstein Center was built at Ohio State, the family in whose honor the primarily basketball building was named also paid to have OSU say games were played in Value City Arena, prompting then Dayton Daily News columnist Gary Nuhn to cleverly note most colleges name their playing sites after a coach, not a couch.

I’m just worried about what they’re going to do in Columbus when the ticket bubble bursts for Ohio State football. Already face value tickets for the warm-up games such as Bowling Green and Tulsa are $77 each, while the Michigan game has a price tag of $195 and Michigan hasn’t even been bringing it’s “A” game.

Naming rights will certainly be sold on such places as Ohio Stadium, as they are in almost all bowl games (we’ll get to those in a later date).

How bad would it be to give Ohio Stadium another name if a certain restaurant tosses down enough cash on the counter for that to take place?

Do you really want a Hooter’s Horseshoe?

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytoncCityPaper.com.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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