By any other name would cost as much

There’s been a little bit of carping lately regarding the transmogrification of The Arena Formerly Known As The Ford Center. The objections vary, but they tend to fall into two general areas: (1) Cheasapeake Energy’s chairman, Aubrey McClendon, is a founding partner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and owns a portion of the team, and he shouldn’t be committing corporate funds to something that might conceivably accrue to his personal benefit; (2) the city of Oklahoma City, which owns the facility, isn’t making all that much from the sale of the naming rights to CHK.

The latter point is pretty irrelevant, since the city’s lease to the team specifies exactly who gets to sell the naming rights — the team — and the amount of the city’s cut of the proceeds. As for the former, well, the idea is to raise Cheaspeake’s profile, not McClendon’s, and frankly, Aubrey’s probably anxious for a little more anonymity.

Marginally more interesting than the objections, at least to me, was the actual price of those rights:

The 12-year naming rights agreement has an initial annual cost of $3.0 million with a 3.0% annual escalation.

So we’re talking close to $40 million in one of the smaller NBA markets. Compare that to what is paid in the Bigger Leagues:

The Oakland Coliseum, home stadium of the Raiders and the A’s, will be renamed Overstock.com Coliseum. The six-year naming-rights deal will cost the Utah-based e-tailer “a modest $7.2 million,” reports the New York Times baseball blog, Bats.

Oh, and there’s this one minor detail:

Overstock is rebranding itself as O.co (.co is a top-level domain that’s become a popular alternative to .com), and the company retains the right to rename the Coliseum.

Which they did, in June. Locals, unsurprisingly, still call it simply the Coliseum; they weren’t impressed by all the nomenclature adjustments across the bay at Candle3Monsterstick Park. This may or may not explain the bargain price paid by the yocos at O.co.

And just yesterday, Nancy Friedman, from whom I borrowed that Oakland story, tweeted this:

I hope they remodel Oakland’s O.co Coliseum. Then it could be a rococo O.coCo.

Suddenly all the upcoming ‘Peake jokes don’t seem so horrible.





6 comments

  1. McGehee »

    5 August 2011 · 3:21 pm

    I was wondering if Chesapeake was in a bidding war with Pollicle, Ltd.

  2. CGHill »

    5 August 2011 · 3:50 pm

    Um, no, but that would have been aweful.

  3. stixx23 »

    5 August 2011 · 11:42 pm

    Many years ago in a state far away, I had a sports talk show. My policy was that you get one chance to name a stadium. If you then come up with a second name, I get to use (Name of the team that plays there) Stadium. The company isn’t paying me for naming rights, so I can call it whatever I want. This was prompted by the Philadelphia basketball/hockey arena getting it’s second name in two years back in 1998 (it’s now on it’s 4th name, I think).

    What is Chesapeake going to do if we all call it Thunder Arena (or Center)? Nothing. So I say that’s what we go with.

    Let’s face it, if I say Nationwide Arena, there’s a 99% chance (all estimates based on pure conjecture) you have no idea what arena I’m talking about. But if I say Blue Jackets Arena, then it’s only a 75% chance you don’t know what I’m talking about. Much easier, methinks.

  4. Mark Alger »

    6 August 2011 · 7:30 am

    I always wonder if the owners of facilities consider what damage they’re doing to their own brand when they sell naming rights to their buildings.

    After all, who pays attention to the “official” name of a long-established venue? Don’t you call it by whatever name it had when you first encountered it?

    So what does it mean when that designation gets effaced? What kind of mind space does that building lose when people can no longer find it in their mental map of their town because the label has changed to something unrecognizable?

    Does the building therefore have to take a back seat to the promoters and attractions that play there? Is that a commercially sound tack to take, all for the sake of a mess of pottage?

    How many millions does it take to overcome that deficit?

    M

  5. McGehee »

    6 August 2011 · 10:40 am

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the Atlanta Braves’ home ballpark renamed.

  6. CGHill »

    6 August 2011 · 10:50 am

    Upon its completion in 1998, the local Triple-A baseball facility was officially named “Southwestern Bell Bricktown Ballpark.” It’s now, just as officially, “RedHawks Field at Bricktown.” Pretty much everyone refers to it now, as they did then, as “The Brick.”

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