The White Sox got themselves a new stadium naming-rights deal, and it’s a laugher. Starting next season, U.S. Cellular Field, formerly the second Comiskey Park, will go by: Guaranteed Rate Field. Yes it will.
Adam Eaton, what do you think?
“It’s a mortgage company?” Eaton asked. “Man, they must be doing really well…I don’t really know what to say.”
It’s a 13-year-deal, with the terms undisclosed, and with the team about to miss out on the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons, perhaps Guaranteed Rate’s logo was too on-the-nose to pass up.
Stadium names don’t get much clumsier, but there’s strong competition for the worst. Maybe something generic like NRG Stadium or the MTS Centre? Something entirely uninspiring like the Canadian Tire Centre or Hard Rock Stadium? Any of the glut of buildings unmemorably named after banks or energy companies will do.
In the NBA alone, there’s the Amway Center, which is named after a literal pyramid scheme; the late, unlamented Sleep Train Arena, which was at least an improvement on Power Balance Pavilion, named after a straight-up pseudoscientific scam; the Smoothie King Center; Talking Stick Resort Arena; and Vivint Smart Home Arena. I write about sports for a living and for the life of me I could not have told you who plays at that last one before I looked it up.
This may seem grim now, White Sox fans, but there is hope—just as there is hope for all of us whose favorite teams have been saddled with unlovely stadium names. Always remember this: You don’t have to call it that.
The White Sox have to call it Guaranteed Rate Field, as does the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns and operates the ballpark. They signed a contract. But did you sign a contract? You did not. They are getting millions of dollars to call it that. You aren’t getting shit.
So call it the Cell if you like. Call it Comiskey. Hell, call it White Sox Park. You’ll know what you mean. Your friends will know. Your cab driver will know. Google Maps already knows. This goes for everyone out there: Call your stadium or arena whatever the hell you want. The battle over corporate naming rights is like the battle over language, and the prescriptivists are again doomed to the losing side.
Our bud George over here gets it:
“It will always be ‘Comiskey’ or ‘Sox Park’ to me, so I don’t care,” said George Schultz of Chicago, a regular attendee at the Cell who wore a Jim Thome jersey to Wednesday’s game.
This is a free country, and they can put a mortgage lender’s signage up all over your ballpark, but they can’t make you say its name.