A contract in consideration of one party having the right to name the property of another party. The most visible of these are stadiums and arenas named after corporations. It is a marketing strategy since sports venues are frequently mentioned in broadcasts and in the news. The drawbacks are minimal. There is some backlash when a famous venue is renamed (Candlestick Park to 3Com Park, for instance), but these diminish over time. Disasters and tragedies, such as building collapses and riots, would be a PR problem, but it doesn't happen that often. The collapse of oil giant Enron has caused some problems with Houston-area venues.

Prices vary depending on the venue and the parties involved. Some of the biggest deals include Staples Center in Los Angeles, in which Staples is paying $100 million over 20 years ($5 million a year), and Miller Brewing Co. is paying $41.2 million over 20 years for Miller Park. The most common buyers are banks, airlines, utitilies, and technology companies. So far, there aren't any venues named for a tobacco company.

The money is paid to whoever owns the venue, which may be a private entity or a governmental unit. Some controversy has risen from naming rights involving government property. A notable example is a hoax in 1996 in which Taco Bell announced the Liberty Bell was to be renamed the Taco Liberty Bell, resulting in mass outrage. A running joke in the novel Infinite Jest involves naming rights for a unit of time, called subsidized years. In the book it is suggested that corporations pay large amounts of money to the government, resulting in "The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment" and "The Year of the Whopper." Given the fact that we quickly became accustomed to stadium name changes, this idea may not be so far off.

However, naming rights are not new. It is merely another form of corporate branding, inevitable in a capitalist society. The foundations for naming rights were laid many years ago, but they were called endowments.

In the year since the first writeup on this subject was written, at least three large United States corporations involved in such a venture have collapsed, effectively ending their contractural relationship with several professional sport teams. The most notable, of course, is Enron Field, the former name (until April 1, 2002) of the baseball stadium for the Houston, TX. franchise. Others include PSinet, which formerly had their name on the football stadium for the Baltimore, MD team and TWA, which had their name on the stadium for the St.Louis, MO. team.

One starts to wonder if this is becoming something akin to the The Sports Illustrated Jinx.

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