‘A Rose Bowl by any other name would smell as sweet’
The Miami Dolphins used to play at Dolphin Stadium. It was not, it has to be said, a particularly imaginative moniker for the venue but nonetheless it carried a certain logic. But the days of Dolphin Stadium are over: when the Fins kick off the new NFL season in August, they will be performing at Land Shark Stadium.
While the idea of the Dolphins playing among sharks has caused some mirth among Miami fans, they should perhaps be relieved that Buffett didn’t choose to name the venue after one of his restaurant chains, (also one of his songs) “Cheeseburger in Paradise“.
Mind you, if you think ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise Park’ would be a, erm, rather cheesy name for a sports venue, then spare a thought for the fans of the Cleveland City Stars soccer team, whose USL side actually play at the Middlefield Cheese Stadium.
Or what about FC Dallas of Major League Soccer who play at Pizza Hut Park? Or Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – home to the Colorado Rapids. The list goes on. Current Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers play at Heinz Field but there are many more than 57 varieties of sponsored stadium names in U.S sport.
There is, refreshingly but incongruously, no jersey sponsorship in the NFL, the NBA or Major League Baseball, but when it comes to venue-naming, there is no such purity.
One of the few exceptions at the moment is the new home to the Dallas Cowboys, which will debut next season and which at the moment has the gloriously unimaginative name Dallas Cowboys New Stadium. I bet that doesn’t last long.
It is not just professional sport that has sold out names. Just look at the deeply traditional college football bowl series, now features such elegantly titled contests as the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
But stop sniggering over there in England. Remember Scarborough FC used to play at the McCain Stadium, named after the fine purveyors of oven chips. Oh and what part of London is known as the Emirates?
And don’t forget you have a Premier League team that performs at a stadium named after a brand of training shoes.
Europe is little better these days. The German Bundesliga is full of sponsored venues and at least NFL teams haven’t yet sold out their actual team names like FC Red Bull Salzburg of Austria (formerly Casino Salzburg), who play at Red Bull Arena and even changed their colours to match their corporate-owner’s branding.
The Land Shark stadium prompted one commenter to the Miami Herald’s website to suggest that the team would have a more aggressive image if it actually did follow the Austrian example and became the Miami Sharks.
While Sharks certainly has more bite than the friendly Dolphins, one problem with that name-switch would be that such a team already existed – at least in the mind of film director Oliver Stone, whose excellent film Any Given Sunday featured Al Pacino as coach of the Miami Sharks franchise.
Actually, that might be the next idea – why not let venues be sponsored by movies?
Perhaps the woeful, winless Detroit Lions could play at Mission: Impossible Field next year? Stamford Bridge as ‘From Russia With Love Stadium’. I’m sure you can do better than that…
PHOTO: Singer Jimmy Buffett performs during the renaming event of the Miami Dolphins NFL football stadium in Miami, Florida May 8, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria