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Sun Apr 20 21:09:58 SAST 2014

Name of the game can sometimes shame

Archie Henderson | 10 September, 2012 07:330 Comments

WE THOUGHT we'd watch the Boks at Subiaco stadium on Saturday (Subi to the locals who live in the suburb) and ended up at Paterson stadium.

It seems a firm of Perth stockbrokers put forward a better case for naming rights than Crazy John's, a telecoms company that attempted to buy them in 2003 but were turned down by the Western Australian Football Commission.

Subi almost became Anzac Field, which would have recalled fallen heroes, but the Aussie minister of veterans affairs (yes, they have one too) turned it down because Anzac (Australian New Zealand Army Corps, especially of Gallipoli fame) is a "federally protected word" - something from which our English is thankfully still free.

Naming rights for sports venues can be tricky. The Brooklyn Nets, formerly the New Jersey Nets basketball team, recently discovered the pitfalls.

In April they eagerly accepted $200-million for the 20-year naming rights to their stadium, the Brooklyn Centre.

Since then there have been some red faces. The rights were bought by Barclays.

It wasn't as bad as the Houston Astros baseball team or that of the Jets and Giants, two football teams in New York.

In 2000 the Astros named their new home ground Enron Field. At the time they believed Enron to be a pillar of the capitalist establishment; instead it was fiddling its finances and massively exaggerating its profits. A year later Enron was bankrupt.

The Astros stripped the stadium of all reference to Enron, replacing it with a sweet name that was as far removed as possible from a corrupt energy trader: Minute Maid.

The Jets and Giants share a venue in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which goes by the name of the MetLife stadium.

It almost became the Allianz stadium when the Munich-based insurance company offered about $25-million a year for naming rights - until it was discovered that Allianz had insured the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. Suddenly all interest in the deal disappeared.

The Tennessee Titans, a football team from Nashville, once accepted money from Adelphia Communications to put its name to their ground.

When the family controlling Adelphia were convicted of looting the company, the stadium's tainted name was put in witness protection as The Coliseum.

Here at home, venues and teams have changed names almost as regularly as the seasons; which is one reason we resist falling for the latest fashion in nomenclature.

A few years ago, directing someone to the Absa stadium could have left them undecided between Kimberley, East London and Durban.

Securicor Loftus (now plain Loftus) sounded more like Pretoria Central. Sahara Newlands (or Kingsmead) is an oxymoron, combining the image of a desert with verdant surrounds.

It's been even worse with teams selling naming rights.

Eastern Province rugby once received a sponsorship from Telkom, which was pushing a new product at the time. EP Rugby had undergone a name change to become The Mighty Elephants. Affixed with the new sponsor, the Callmore Mighty Elephants sounded like a cry for help from Tarzan.

Sometimes, with Cheetahs, Cobras, Bulls, Pumas, Sharks, Eagles, Bulldogs, Cobras, Sharks, Dolphins, Leopards and Lions involved, it can be a jungle out there.

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Name of the game can sometimes shame

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Sun Apr 20 21:09:58 SAST 2014 ::