I'm Begging You, Enough With The Corporate Branding of Stadiums, Already!


Yesterday, it was announced that US Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox, would be re-branded Guaranteed Rate Field on November 1, signalling a bright and shiny partnership between the Chicago White Sox and one of the largest mortgage companies in the country that nobody has actually have of before today.

The company, founded in 2000 by Chicagoan Victor Ciardelli, has seemingly put a lot of thought in taking steps to increase their brand recognition, but very little thought to what it will be like for the poor White Sox fans to have to say "Guaranteed Rate Field" all the time.

What was Ciardelli thinking? Perhaps there was a conversation where he pointedly remarked to his trusted assistant, "I'm thinking about buying the naming rights to the stadium home of one of the worst teams in Major League baseball." and then dropped a bowling ball on his foot, his own screams drowning out the protestations of his assistant upon hearing of the dreadful idea.

And perhaps, even before then, he'd spent quite some time in the limo mulling the name "Guaranteed Rate Field", saying it out loud, and imagining the pride that White Sox fans would take in saying this new name and venturing out to this newly-re-branded mecca to watch their team rack up some more pennants.

If only somebody had reminded him that the White Sox are in a serious "rebuilding" period where, near as we an tell, no actual re-building is taking place. "The Cell", short for "The Cellar", was starting to have a nice ring to it, and now the team has ended the relationship early to get cozy with a company whose logo contains a downward-pointing arrow.

It's hard to tell who's crazier, Ciardelli for thinking this would do wonders for his company's name recognition or White Sox executives who have no problem feeding Ciardelli and his company to the wolves.

By "wolves", of course, I mean the rabid legions of disgruntled Sox fans who will take perverse pleasure in re-branding the stadium "Guaranteed Rape Field" should the Sox even THINK of raising the price of tickets and/or ball park nachos!

The other day, I stumbled across some third-tier ESPN channel that was broadcasting a classic baseball game from the 1970's. The first thing that jumped out at me was the lack of corporate logos splashed all over the ballpark, no green screen behind home plate for the placement of ad banners during the TV broadcast, and yet the owner of said ballpark seemed to be doing alright financially, or so it would appear from the smile on his face as he sat in his luxury box high atop the ballpark.

He couldn't have been further removed from the action if he'd blasted himself into space at first pitch, so it should come as no surprise that the titan of industry behind every sports team ballpark would willingly sell the naming rights to their soul for money that they don't even need because some ass-kisser in their employ planted the seed in their ear.

Now, this writer is not urging owners to leave money on the table, but, rather, to put just a little more effort in working with compatible corporate entities so that people don't have to go see their favorite rock band at a stadium called Jiffy Lube Live or Sleep Train Amphitheater.

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