The names come and go.
There is a new name attached to the home of the Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves’ privately-publicly financed stadium. There was a bank merger and the old bank name disappeared with the combined business wanting a new Atlanta stadium moniker. Sports owners using publicly financed facilities usually keep all of the naming rights money. Local governments give the cash away as part of a lease agreement. Corporate names have been on stadiums since 1927 when Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley, who sold Wrigley gum, renamed his park Wrigley Field. Crosley Field in Cincinnati and Briggs Stadium in Detroit also had corporate names. The Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick would not approve the name change of St. Louis’s Sportsmen’s Park to Budweiser Stadium after Gussie Busch bought the Cardinals in 1953. Busch purchased the Cardinals and was planning on using the team as a promotional vehicle to sell beer. The St. Louis brewery got around Frick and National League owners by putting out Busch beer. The stadium was named after the team owner. There was nothing Frick could do to stop that. By the 1970s, corporate sponsorships of sports started to take hold. The women’s tennis tour was sponsored by a cigarette, Virginia Slims, there was the Marlboro Cup horse race, the John Hancock Sun Bowl, the Nabisco Masters Tennis Tournament, Arco Arena in Sacramento, the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. In 1988, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss sold the naming rights of the Forum in Inglewood to Great Western Bank. That move was the start of something new. Selling naming rights. The NBA and NHL owner Buss got panned for selling the naming rights to a bank. But there was money to be made. It has never been proven that buying naming rights to a stadium or an arena is a worthwhile investment. Names come and go but as long as the checks clear it doesn’t matter.