Thursday, February 03, 2005

SABR Alert! If you're not into long discourses on obscure baseball topics, I'd suggest finding another blog to read. :-)

(And in case you don't know, SABR stands for Society for American Baseball Research.)

Toronto's Skydome was just renamed to the Rogers Center (couldn't they have found a more interesting name?), after Rogers Communication, which owns the team and just bought Skydome from the Ontario provicial government. Yet another Major League stadium has a name belonging to a corporate sponsor.

This was not always the case. As little as 15 years ago, there were no MLB stadiums named after corporations. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium, assuming that they are named after William Wrigley and August Busch and not Wrigley Chewing Gum and Anheiser Busch. In fact, Gussie Busch tried to rename the old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis Budweiser Park when he bought the ballpark from Bill Veeck in the '50's, and was told he couldn't do that!

In 1990 you had the following:

6 ballparks were named after people: Comiskey Park, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Shea Stadium, Wrigley Field, Busch Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium

5 ballparks were named after their teams: Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, Royals Stadium, Astrodome and Dodger Stadium.

11 ballparks were named after some geographical feature: Fenway Park, Cleveland Stadium, Arlington Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Anaheim Stadium, Fulton County Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, County Stadium, Kingdome and Candlestick Park.

4 ballparks have names that don't really fit into one of the other categories. Two were named to honor veterans: Memorial Stadium and Veterans Stadium. The other two were Skydome and Olympic Stadium.

Of course, four teams didn't exist in 1990: Arizona, Colorado, Tampa Bay and Florida.

In 2005, there have been a lot of changes. The prime one is that 17 ballparks have corporate sponsors: Rogers Center, Tropicana Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Comerica Park, Ameriquest Field, Safeco Field, McAfee Coliseum, Citizens Bank Park, Pro Player Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Great American Ballpark, PNC Park, Miller Park, SBC Park, Bank One Ballpark, Coors Field and Petco Park.

There are actually a couple of more stadiums named after people, with 8: Jacobs Field, Hubert H. Humprey Metrodome, Kaufmann Stadium, Shea Stadium, Turner Field, RFK Stadium (the new home of the Washington Nationals), Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium.

The big decline comes in ballparks named after geographical features. There are only 2 left: Fenway Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (you could say that it's named after the team, but who the heck calls it Oriole Park?).

Lastly, there are 3 ballparks named after their team: Yankee Stadium, Angels Stadium and Dodger Stadium.

So what does this say? It's another indication that in America in the 21st century, just about everything needs to be sponsored. At least two ballparks (the Metrodome and RFK Stadium) will be replaced in the next few years and will no doubt have the names of sponsors. It's tough for teams to resist the lure of big bucks for naming rights - these deals are often worth $5 million a year and up.

The trend will no doubt continue, but we don't have to like it.


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