Over the years, we’ve seen a multitude of name changes in professional sports arenas and stadiums. The naming rights to our nation’s largest, and most visible, arenas are sold at an alarming rate. As a kid, I relished the fact that I was the only one in my circle of friends who could name every professional stadium, ballpark and arena.
The names of many were iconic: Madison Square Garden, The Spectrum, The Forum and The Boston Garden.
These names were supposed to outlive the arenas themselves; were supposed to evoke fear and intimidation into the hearts of the opponents as they walked through the visitors’ tunnel.
However, today, when we play in places like the AT&T Center and the American Airlines Center (or possibly the American Airlines Arena), we have as hard a time coming up with their home affiliation as the $1 million question from Regis in the late 1990s.
Tradition and identity are sold for 10 to 15 years at a time for a chance at marketing their product and their name brands.
Gund Arena (Cleveland Cavaliers; 1975-2005)
The Gund, which opened in 1994, became the downtown home of the Cavaliers. The positioning of the arena helped to completely revitalize the urban blight of the “Mistake on the Lake.”
It was a far better situation for the Cavs to be downtown that out in the country at their former home, The Coliseum at Richfield. The arena’s namesake was the team’s former owner, Gordon Gund.
Gund paid money out of his own pocket to have the arena named after him. The name was changed in 2005 to the Quicken Loans Arena.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of that name either. However, “The Q” is a name that I think identifies well with the city as opposed to the guttural-sounding Gund.
The Wigwam (Anderson Packers; 1949-50)
You have to dig way back into the annals of NBA history to get this ridiculous a name for an equally ridiculous franchise. The Anderson Packers were an NBA team for only one season, in 1950.
The NBA absorbed the team after that first year and hence put an end to NBA games in an arena with a name that would evoke protests and picket lines for its racially insensitive connotations. One former name of the team, according to my friends at Wikipedia, is the Chief Anderson Meat Packers. Dear God.
Amway Arena (Orlando Magic)
I’ve always found it strange that this company would make the huge investment of owning the naming rights to an NBA basketball arena. It’s a company I associate with laundry detergent, pyramid schemes and door-to-door salesmen.
The former name of the arena is actually not much better: For one year, it was simply called The Arena in Orlando.
Walt Disney would no doubt be unimpressed with the five seconds of creativity it took to produce that one.
Amway Arena, home to the Orlando Magic, was known simply as The Arena in Orlando for five days in December 1-6, 2006.
Sleep Train Arena (Sacramento Kings; 2013-present): The Kings’ home arena has the distinction of having three different names from January 2011 to January 2013.
Known as the ARCO Arena from 1988-2011, it became the Power Balance Pavilion in March 2011. However, after only 19 months, the naming rights to the 17,300-seat arena was changed to reflect, of all things, a mattress company. Now I feel like taking a nap. Read more…