What’s in a name? For sports venues, everything

The names of sports stadiums seem to keep getting more ridiculous every day.

Need an example? Look no further than today’s announcement that Louisville’s new downtown arena is being officially dubbed the KFC Yum! Center.

“The KFC Yum! Center is perfectly named from our perspective,” Yum! Brands chairman and CEO David Novak told The Courier-Journal. “I think the community will be very proud of that as well.”

I seriously doubt it.

I personally wouldn’t have had much of a problem with the name if they’d gone with just “KFC Center,” but sticking “Yum!” in the middle sounds and looks dumb (especially with the trademark exclamation point). At least KFC — which, lest we forget, stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken — is a brand with an 80-year history in the Bluegrass State. Yum! Brands is just a name somebody made up in 2002 after Tricon Global Restaurants, the company to which PepsiCo sold the Colonel’s legacy in 1997, acquired Lexington, Ky.-based Yorkshire Global Restaurants.

I guess we should be thankful that Yum! Brands didn’t try to really maximize its marketing investment by naming the facility the KFC/Pizza Hut/WingStreet/Taco Bell/A&W/Long John Silver’s Yum! Center. Either way, though, it’s just a matter of time before everybody starts calling it The Chicken Palace.

Am I the only one who misses old-school stadium names?

Ebbets Field. Candlestick Park. Comiskey Park. The Polo Grounds. Soldier Field. Lambeau Field. The Palace of Auburn Hills. Veterans Stadium. Madison Square Garden. Durham Athletic Park. Drillers Stadium. Hank Aaron Stadium. Fenway Park. Three Rivers Stadium. Mile High Stadium.

Those are real names for sporting venues, names worthy of the legends who played there. Names like these are something that fans can get behind and support because they represent more than just the simple fact that some outfit plunked down a gazillion dollars for the right to paint its name on the door.

Wrigley Field may be named after chewing gum, but it was also named after the guy who owned the primary team playing there.

Names like these also help give their communities a shared sense of identity and history, something that’s apparently lost on today’s marketing and branding gurus.

Did the Music City Miracle take place at Adelphia Coliseum or The Coliseum? I’m not completely sure off the top of my head, and I was standing on the sideline while it was happening. I am positive, however, that it didn’t happen at LP Field.

I think my first Major League Baseball game took place at Cinergy Field, but I wouldn’t swear to it. I’m getting older, so it very well could have been at Riverfront Stadium.

I have no idea what you even call the place where I first saw Ken Griffey Jr. play; I can tell you it was in Anaheim, though, and Gene Autry owned Griffey’s opponents.

What’s in a name? For sports stadiums, I think it’s everything.

I'm a Mid-South photojournalist, Kentucky writer and digital media consultant (or eNinja™). Circle me on Google Plus at Plus.BillySuratt.com, follow me on Twitter at @surattb and Instagram me at @BillySuratt. Got a news tip or suggestion about some journalism that needs committed? Email blog@billysuratt.com (discretion is always guaranteed).

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