We see and hear them all the time, and we always cringe. I’m talking about horrible stadium names.
It used to be that stadiums were named after people, cities or the teams that played in them. Lambeau Field, Notre Dame Stadium, and Yankee Stadium fall into that category and continue to do so. Others are named for our service men and women — those with words like “Memorial” or “Soldier” fall into that category.
Those days are almost gone, as the almighty dollar has won out over history and tradition yet again. We now have an American sports landscape littered with stadiums named after oil, financial and communications companies with little or no relationship to that city other than maybe a corporate office. It’s not like Busch or Wrigley, where those named are woven into the historical fabric of their cities. Many of these new names just don’t have any sentimental connection with the people who fill the stadiums.
Enter San Francisco. Outside of Rice-A-Roni, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Trolleys, the city by the bay is also know as the home of an American staple — blue jeans. Not just any blue jeans. Levi’s blue jeans. The Levi’s logo with the two horses struggling to rip apart a pair of jeans is arguably one of the most recognizable on the planet. Millions of people see it every day. On the logo, right below the words “Levi Strauss & Co.” is the name of the city where the company was founded: San Francisco, CA.
The San Francisco 49ers and Levi Strauss & Co. are inching ever closer to a naming rights deal for the 49ers’ new Santa Clara-based stadium. The only thing standing in the way is the approval of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority. If it happens — and it looks like it will — I would argue that no current stadium outside of Busch in St. Louis would be more appropriately named after a local company.
I would have to think that the name would make the move an easier transition for fans who have a sentimental attachment to the current stadium, Candlestick Park. Candlestick, since it opened its doors in 1960, has become one of the most famous venues in America. It was the first new home for baseball’s Giants after their move from New York. The Beatles played their last live commercial concert there in 1966 and it has housed the 49ers since 1971.
Having lived in a city that tore down an iconic stadium to build a more modern and hip venue in the name of the almighty dollar, I can tell you for certain that the new building had better mesh with the local area, both in appearance and in name.
I truly believe that the San Francisco 49ers, the city of Santa Clara and the Levis Strauss & Co. company are doing exactly that with the best interests of the Bay Area and the 49er fans in their thoughts.
Perhaps some other teams and cities around the country should be taking notes.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MAY 9, 2013