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this two minute warning made possible with a grant from....

via Alan:

The Chicago Bears have sold out.

No longer will the old franchise, which was there at the NFL's creation, refer to itself exclusively as the Chicago Bears. From now on, whenever possible, it will be "Bears football presented by Bank One."

The bank, which is based in Chicago, paid an undisclosed amount to be the team's "presenting partner" for the next 12 years, the first such arrangement in NFL history.

I remember back in the early 80's, we had this running joke where we imagined that everything in sports was sponsored. This home run brought to you by Budweiser! This seventh inning stretch brought to you by Master Card! The joke was on us when advertising proliferated sports to the extent that tv time outs became part of the game and the sideboards in hockey looked more like billboards.

Then came the inevitable naming of stadiums. Gone were the homey sounding names and arenas dedicated to local heroes. Invesco Field, FedEx Field, Network Associates Coliseum, Qualcomm Stadium. Enron Stadium, anyone?

Now, - unless some player decides to chang his name to Cellular One - they are taking it as far as it can go.

By the Bears selling out like this, they have opened a Pandora's Box of naming rights and sponsorships.

The New York Mets presented by Pepto-Bismol. The Dallas Cowboys presented by Chico's Bail Bonds.

There's a good opportunity here for some inventive marketing. Sadly, it just makes it all too apparent that professional sports is nothing more than a collective of badly run businesses.

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Comments

The Boston Red Sox presented by Prozac

The Chicago Cubs presented by Wrigley's.... oh wait...

They might as well change the names of the teams for the sponsors. How about the Fleet Enemas or the KFC Extra Crispies? I know I'd be in the stands rooting for the Depends Leak-Free Adult Diapers (they have a great defense).

Just read the other day that, going back on the original promise, they are considering selling naming rights to the remodeled Lambeau Field.

From the frozen tundra of......
.....Wisconsin House of Cheese Field!

No, won't work.

Well, you could have said "this no hitter thrown by David Wells is brought to you by Budweiser" and that would tie in just fine. Unless he was drinking Miller or something else. But you get the point.

Given how the Mets are playing, their fans probably need Pepto-Bismol.

They might have renamed it Invesco Field, but everyone here in Denver that I know still calls it Mile High. Ah well, too bad for them!

Yeah, the whole naming rights thing traces back several years now. But I can't imagine the name change will go very deep; I know I'll still call it Lambeau Field. Maybe it'll be one of those "Lambeau Field presented by Harley Davidson" or "Harley Davidson's Lambeau Field."

Or not; those are pretty damn awkward.

--------
http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/news/archive/local_10390341.shtml :

"In an advisory referendum in November 2000, Brown County residents voted 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of selling the stadium name. Some of the revenue would be used to shorten the life of a 0.5 percent county sales tax that is paying for part of a $295 million stadium renovation."
--------
Oh, and a note about that article: one of the aldermen they quote, Guy Zima, is the local crank case on the council. Does every city have that one nutjob that keeps getting re-elected for decades, or have I just been lucky enough to live in Green Bay with Zima and in Minneapolis with Phyllis Kahn? (Zima is the guy the local editorial cartoonist Joe Heller always draws with sausage links in his pockets because he got caught shoplifting sausage a long time ago).

OK, way too much babbling. Probably should have posted this on my site...

Are cowboys players still eligible for bail?

This whole naming rights issue is out of control. One way to stop it would be for everyone, especially the media, to just refuse to use any corporate names when referring to a stadium or team. It's not like the name is legally binding - all they can do is paint it on the side of the building. If nobody uses the corporate name and it generates a huge amount of negative publicity for the corporation, maybe they'll start to re-evaluate the wisdom of pretending to own sports stadia and teams.

It really shoudn't even be an option for them, though. Any commissioner who had half a brain and even the tiniest set of balls would just say "no, there will not be any Bank One Bears in this league. You will not be allowed to trivialize our product."

You guys are looking at this all wrong. This could be great. The product names could really capture the nature of the team!

I was gonna share some, but i think i might write my own post about this:)

yeah, and the Texas Rangers could be sponsored by Electrolux.

'cause they really suck.

maybe what they need to do is have year-long naming priveliges based on how good the team is. So Ford and Budweiser and the "big guys" get the good teams, and the teams that are in the bottom of their leagues get sponsored by Ty-D-Bowl or the local Jim's House 'o' Litter Boxes.

If I cared more about pro sports I'd probably be upset about this. But ever since the baseball strikes, I've been kind of soured on that whole thing.

There was an April fools joke one time where a local paper announced that the naming rights had been sold to a national icon and from now on it would be known as :

"The Liberty Taco Bell."

Now I'm wondering.......

As a life-long Chicagoan and sports fan, this makes me ill. First, we get the joys of Comiskey . . . er, U.S. Cell Block, er, U.S. Cellular Field (the worst stadium in major sports history), then we get a giant toilet bowl implanted in the old Soldier Field (alien football, coming soon to a lakeshore near you!) - now this. Remember, too, that Bank One isn't a Chicago company - they simply bought out First Chicago Bank a few years ago.

And to top it all off, the Bears suck. They'd be picked to finish 5th in the Big Ten.

The hell with it all - I'm moving to New Mexico, taking up spelunking, and taking all of my money out of Bank One!

Eagles football presented by Dr. Phil's house o' Orthopedics, your blown-out knee specialists since 1970.

Actually, the Bears started out as the Decatur Staleys. Named after the Staley Company of Decatur...I think they made corn starch, and other household goods. So they are returning to their roots.

Heh...stupid flatlanders. And no, Lambeau Field maybe Citizens (Bank) Lambeau Field, at worst.

YOU might call it FedEx Field, but here in DC we still call it Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, The Cooker or The Jack. It IS the "House that Jack Built" using no public or corporate funds; it was only after Dan Snyder bought the team that the naming rights for the stadium were put up for sale.

MikeR:
the televised games are sponsored by those same corporations, so the announcers are required to use the name.

Hey, the Cubs were playing in "Wrigley" Field long before the naming thing took off.

I don't care. Professional sports has become such a crass money-grubbing exercise, I lost interest in most of it a long time ago -- and you're talking about a guy who watched 60+ games at Wrigley, once.

When the Toronto Blue Jays first joined the American League, the owners (Labatt's Breweries) wanted to call them the Labatt's Blues, after their flagship beer product, Labatt's Blue. The league said no. Perhaps this will change soon...?

One of my favorites is renaming the Ice Palace in Tampa (home of the NHL Lightning) to the "St. Petersburg Times Forum". Only problem is...St. Petersburg is about 20 miles to the south. The forum is located in Tampa. We still call it the Ice Palace.

Oh, and there is the First Union Center in Philly, known affectionately around town as "FU"

And Mark, they're closing the Vet for football. Many fewer "POPS" is South Philadelphia.

This has been done in Japan for years. Baseball teams have names like the "Nippon Ham Fighters" (named after a meat products company) or, even more alarming, the "Yomiuri Giants " (named after one of Japan's largest newspapers--amazingly, they get a lot of coverage in the Daily Yomiuri).
My biggest problem with the Bank One Bears (hmm...does Bank One offer investment services?) is that Bank One are a bunch of scummy crooks who nearly put a big chunk of the comics publishers in America out of business by illegally seizing the assests of a distributor (see here for the sordid details).

hey now... don't rag on Chico's Bail Bonds... they had one helluva little league team!

The San Francisco Satan worshipping hellspawn...er...Giants already have these:

Best defensive play of the game is the Carl's Jr. In Your Face

Pitching change: "When it's time for a change, think Speedy Oil Change"

When a pitcher starts warming up in the bullpen: The AT&TCall to the Bullpen

They also have one for the "Turning Point of the Game" but I can't remember what company it is.

It's not just professional sports either. All of the changes have happened with the college bowl system and their naming sponsors also. More than a couple long-running bowl games completely changed their name to their sponsor's name (The Citrus Bowl became The Capitol One Bowl, for example).

Actually, it was Enron Field. Now it's Minute Maid Park - which cracks me up every time I say it. The train beside the park (the field is at Houston's former Union Station) is now filled with oranges. I thought they were pumpkins when I went to my first game after the name change, and couldn't figure out why they had pumpkins in the train. Oranges are about as stupid. None of it has anything to do with baseball. sigh

HOW ABOUT THAT FRANKFURTER COMPANY BUYING NAMING RIGHTS - YOU KNOW THE BALLPARK BALLPARK?

Ouch. I think JC takes the prize.

In Australia, the players themselves are festooned with sponsors' logos, as demonstrated by this Rabbitohs player. They're not as bad as racing cars yet, but they're getting there.

(Yeah, yeah, the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Don't make fun of the name, their supporters are mean bastards.)

Whether it's a good idea to sell naming rights to a stadium, an inning or whatever is one question, but changing the name of a TEAM from the locale where it resides to a corporation shouldn't even be on the table for negotiation. The strong associations that the citizens of the host towns feel for their teams is the only thing that makes pro sports a viable enterprise. By changing the name of the team to the Bank One Bears, you're encouraging fans to question the strength of the association they feel for the team and the need to continually shell out hundreds and thousands of dollars for tickets, potentially undermining the long-term viability of the team and the league as a whole.

I think this is a case of greed so excessive that it's gonna come back and bite these folks in the ass - hard.

I think sports teams with money should get in on the act themselves; just think of the exposure. Picture the Expos, whenever possible, being referred to as the New York Yankees. Money well spent? I think so.

After the way the McCaskey family (the skinflint owners of the team) looted the state treasury for the money to build their monstrosity of a stadium, I now simply refer to the team as the "Chicago Welfare Queens."

I encourage all of you too, as well.

I've been a Bear's fan since birth (indoctrinated since the doctor slapped my butt). This crap has got me teetering on the edge of wearing green and gold this fall. The entire McCaskey family should be beaten.

It will always be Jack Murphy Stadium, not Qualcomm Stadium. I'm from San Diego but live in Minneapolis now. The home of Target Center, but it was always Target Center.

Whatever.

Pro sports is a business. Entertain the masses.

As my dad says, "They're playing a kid's game." And he's right.

I think it was a movie called "Roller Ball" with James Caan in the '70's, where they first started using corporate linking to sports teams as a "futuristic" joke.

Well, the future is now and it is no longer a joke!

The Miami Dolphins have a bad habit of starting the year off with a big bang and then choking down the stretch.

Word has it they have been bought by Office Depot... Moved to the Phillipines ... and re-named the "Manila Folders" !

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