Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

The Wonderful World of Stadium Naming Rights!

Posted in Sports and Games on February 13th, 2015 by Nathan – 1 Comment

When I was a kid, the Astros and Oilers played in the Astrodome, and the Rockets and Aeros played in the Summit. Today, the Oilers are no more, the Aeros are no more, the Astros play in Minute Maid Park, the Rockets play in the Toyota Center, and the Texans play in NRG Stadium.

In between my childhood and now, Houston has been graced by even more names: the Astros went from the Astrodome to the Ballpark at Union Station to Enron Field to MMP. (Those last three being the same location.) The Rockets and Aeros went from the Summit to the Compaq Center to the Toyota center. (Those first two being the same location.) And the Texans began life at Reliant Stadium before NRG Stadium. (Yes, those are also the same location.)

Naming rights are fascinating to me when I consider this: as a child, every stadium I knew was unnamed, an advertisement for sports only, yet today, I see cars, juice, and electricity. And in traveling, I find that there's fewer and fewer unnamed sports complexes. My uncle once took me to see games at both Cowboys Stadium and the Ballpark at Arlington, but those are now gone, and their teams instead play at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park in Arlington. Even while in college, I watched as Shea Stadium was replaced by Citi Field. The unnamed building is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Given this, I decided to do some simple research to answer some questions. What industries are most prevalent in naming rights? Does that differ by sport? What stadiums/arenas/ballparks still don't have paid naming rights and what are they named for? Etc. Here's what I've found:

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Links to full size images: MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Overall. And the data I used (excel format).

  • Outside of the MLB, there's very few places that haven't sold naming rights. Fully one-third of MLB ballparks have avoided doing so, but the other three sports combine to produce the same number (ten: two in the NBA, six in the NFL, and three in the NHL).
  • Financial institutions hold the most naming rights (twenty-one overall), followed closely by Tech/Communications (fourteen), Insurance (eleven), and Retail/Consumer Goods (eleven).
  • There are two Casinos, one in the NBA and one in the NHL, that have naming rights, yet sports gambling is illegal in most of the country.
  • There's something called a Scotiabank Saddledome.
  • When the Dallas Mavericks played the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals, American Airlines won. Both teams play at AA-branded arenas.
  • Of the twenty venues without naming rights, six are named for a team owner, six are named for the team itself, three for a place, three as a memorial, and two just as a pleasant flourish (The Palace of Auburn Hills and Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs play).
  • There are some interesting choices in the non-Finance/Retail/Insurance sectors. For example, four NBA stadiums/NHL arenas have airline naming rights, yet there are no airlines in any other sport. Similarly, the MLB has five Food/Beverage ballparks (Coors, Minute Maid, Miller, Busch, Tropicana), whereas the other sports combine for three (NBA: Pepsi, NBA/NHL: Smoothie King; NFL: Heinz).
  • And finally, in case you were unsure just how much of a scam for-profit colleges are, in 2006, University of Phoenix (which, it should be noted, has a higher student-loan-default rate than graduation rate) paid $154.5 million for twenty years of naming rights for the Arizona Cardinals' stadium.

I just tried Turkish Delight for the first time

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2014 by Nathan – 3 Comments

Turkish DelightI don't remember much about the Chronicles of Narnia; I only read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe once, I believe in early elementary school, and didn't find it very entertaining. But chief among the things I remember is that one of the children is lured by the witch into her van sleigh with his favorite treat, Turkish Delight. I think at some point I watched a movie version of the book, or perhaps just imagined annoying little Edmund speaking in a Oxbridge accent asking for more Turkish Delight. Either way, that connection has been seared into my head, and the two cannot be separated.

So when two coworkers brought some Turkish Delight into work recently, I had no choice but to take a taste and see what Edmund wanted so badly. And I have to say, Edmund is a proper git.

It's chewy, sweet but in an odd and discomforting way, and the pistachios, while they probably mean well, are not helped by being suspended in this odd gelatinous creation. The green color is slightly off-putting, as it's not quite a shade of green you'd expect from normal foodstuffs, and the outer dusting of powdered sugar is a weak attempt to pretend that this goo is candy.

If that witch had tried to lure me away with this stuff, and I don't care how enchanted it's supposed to be, I think I'd get away just fine.

Actually, on that topic, why had Edmund's parents never told him not to take candy from strangers? Oh, I take that back. They probably did. But there's no way anyone of reasonable taste could identify this as candy.

The American Zionism

Posted in Opinion on January 29th, 2013 by Nathan – 1 Comment

Over the past week I’ve spewed forth opinions on Israel that I had not before really put in words. This has been useful for me and hopefully interesting to others, but it’s all gradually headed toward a two-part conclusion. This is part one.

The burden

I want to start by saying this is in fact a burden for me. Having grown up an ardent supporter of Zionism and Israel, having served in various leadership positions to that effect, having spent summers there, and finally having lived there for a year, it would be foolish to suggest I have no emotional connection to the country. Of course I do. Thus the difficulty at having to turn my back, turn my heart, on something that meant so much to me, because it was not the country I thought it was or the dream I thought it could be.

The dream

Zionism, for me, is the idea that there be a democratic nation where Jews, among their neighbors, are safe and at home. I do not believe this means that such a nation should be majority Jewish, nor should it necessarily not be. It must be democratic though, as all people must be equal. This is not just a tenet of Zionism for me, it is a tenet of Judaism as a whole. Ideas of humans being created in the image of God, or the idea of loving the strangers among you are strong in Jewish tradition. That should be no different when Jews are in charge.

The realization

Growing up in America, I was frequently asked by Jewish adults, “are you a Jewish American or an American Jew?” For a while I had an answer. Slowly that answer shifted toward the other side. And then while in Israel, the true answer occurred to me: “America never asks me to choose.” Throughout history, the Jew has been the outsider in society. Always trying to be the insider, and sometimes coming close enough that it looks like the Jew is the insider. But never actually.

That changed with the birth of America though. From day one, the Jew was the insider, financing the revolution, fighting the British, and earning a seat at the table. George Washington wrote a detailed and letter to a synagogue in Rhode Island in 1790 that had served the revolution immensely. And though some discrimination occurred from people, the US government was one built on equality of religious thought, and that included Jews from the very beginning.

At no point has anti-Semitism, despite what right-wing Israel advocacy groups such as AIPAC would have older Jews believe, been as common in America as at any point in Europe. In fact, polls and research has showed that Jews are more favorably received in America than Muslims, Mormons, or even Catholics. Jews have served in high governmental positions. Jews have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Jews have led businesses, led organizations, served the people, themselves, and each other.

The Jewish renaissance that Herzl dreamed of for Zionism has occurred, right here in the US. A quick glance at the breakfast aisle will show the number of non-Jews excited about bagels. Listening to the Black Eyed Peas will assault your ears with a “Mazel Tov” and “L’Chaim,” and for that matter, the same is true for Jay-Z, the Fugees, Lil’ Wayne, Drake (a Jew himself), and many others in mainstream culture. Michael Chabon continues to write stories with a Yiddish influence and get praise and awards. Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google, and Mark Zuckerberg Facebook. A growing percentage of American libertarians have Ayn Rand to thank for their beliefs, and no architect hasn’t been changed by the works of Pritzker prize winner Frank Gehry. The Supreme Court is 33% Jewish, and Congress is 7%. This could go on, but there’s no need.

To be continued…

I can now run for congress or rent a car

Posted in me! on September 20th, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

The latter seems less painful, but both are now things I can legally do thanks to turning twenty-five today. I can also buy alcohol in Delhi, which, surprisingly, was off-limits to me before now. And I’m now halfway through my twenties. A quarter-century old.

I’m not a big fan of birthdays because they seem arbitrary. It’s not like twenty-five is likely to be a major milestone when I look back on my life in the distant future. But on the other hand, a lot of fantastic things happened at age twenty-four, so you never know.

Since I’m very unlikely to ever run for congress I suppose I’ll need to rent a car soon just to say I did so. Except that I actually have rented a car before, since you can do so with an additional fee from many places. So that’s kind of meaningless. Sort of like when I turned seventeen and went to see an R-rated movie with my friend Zack, whose birthday I shared. It’s not like we hadn’t seen R-rated movies before, of course we had.

We went to see Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which was frankly awful and which had come out, according to IMDb, ten days prior. When we got to the cinema (Edwards Greenway, if I recall correctly), they carded us, so we both pulled out our IDs, which I guess is what we were really excited for.

But then the woman goes “these are fakes.” And we were both flabbergasted because seriously who would be stupid enough to pay for a fake ID to say they were seventeen? And to get into such a bad movie?

So that’s my story for my twenty-fifth birthday and why, though more likely to do so than run for congress, I am not that likely to rent a car soon.

It's just "Montrose," dammit!

Posted in Travel on August 27th, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

Batman's Top Ten Pet Peeves #1: "When people call him The Batman. It's just Batman, dammit!"Most of the people who live in Houston are new to Houston or new to life. I recently read that 70% of people who live here did not live here thirty years ago, either because they weren't yet alive or because they are transplants in this fair city. Because of Houston's fast growth, there are some things, namely how we name neighborhoods, that are undergoing changes. Some of these changes are reasonable. Some are not. Here's a quick guide to what you should call different areas.

It's just Montrose

Montrose, one of Houston's coolest areas, is a neighborhood around Montrose Blvd. It should be noted that the way I'm referring to it, "Monstrose," is how it should be referred to. Please, stop saying "The Montrose." There is nothing "the" about it. This is not The Castro. This is not The Bowery. Montrose is way south of The Woodlands and pretty close to The Village but that shouldn't confuse you.

The Village or Rice Village

A good barometer of whether someone is a native Houstonian is how they call the area west of Rice University. People not from around here tend to say "Rice Village," especially if they're from New York, where another Village claims the title in their heads of "the village." Those of us who grew up here, on the other hand, tend to say "the Village." Both are okay. Unlike "Montrose" versus "The Montrose," this is really just a personal preference thing. If you say "Rice Village," everyone knows what you mean. And if you say "The Village" and there's no chance you're talking about NYC, the same should be true. Just say whichever sounds more reasonable to you.

EaDo & Midtown

As areas become more gentrified, they will change their names. That's okay. This isn't the same as "The Montrose" which is simply a bastardization of a name that already exists. This is more like an example of someone went by "Jimmy" as a child but decides to go by "James" as they grow up. "Third Ward" or "Fourth Ward" doesn't sound as good, or as exciting as "Midtown." And "EaDo" sounds unrealistically New Yorkish, but "Chinatown" doesn't really fit since it's no longer accurate. Of course, if you want to stress your O.G. Houston status, feel free to keep numbering the wards. Just don't mix them up.

Texas Medical Center

If you ride the light rail, you might notice that there is a stop called "Dryden/TMC" and another stop called "TMC Transit Center." These stops are in the Medical Center. TMC, in fact, stands for "Texas Medical Center." This should be a good way to remember that the word is "center," not "district." There is no Dryden/TMD stop because there is no Medical District. There is a Medical Center. Don't confuse the two.

There's probably a lot of areas that I'm forgetting, which is fine, because I can always make a second list. But it's very important to remember, even if you have trouble with TMC or the Village or the various new names that are constantly popping up: it's just "Montrose," dammit.

Some science you may have missed VII

Posted in Tech on July 31st, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

The artificial jellyfish. Awesome.Now that we're safely in the second half of the year, we can look at 2012 and say that this is a good year for science. Heck, it involved finding the Higgs Boson! July was no different, a month filled with good and interesting scientific announcements. Here's a few of them.

Manufactured jellyfish – Supposedly this is useful for future advances in reverse-engineering muscles and other simple life forms, but even if that weren't true, the fake jellyfish created by Caltech and Harvard scientists using heart cells would still be awesome. It responds to electricity, swimming like a jellyfish when stimulated, and it acts a lot like a heart, pumping to move.

No more cavities – Some Chilean scientists, working with a Yale researcher, have developed a molecule they call "Keep 32" that would completely eradicate the cavity-causing Streptococcus Mutans for a few hours. Of course, if this truly works, I hope that time travel is the next major breakthrough so that I may go back and prevent all the myriad cavities I had while growing up.

Converting electricity to gas – This seems to be the opposite of what one would want, but Stanford and Penn State scientists have identified microbes that convert electricity into natural gas. Besides the rather dubious claim that this methane is cleaner (since the electricity that produced it originally has not changed), it does provide one really interesting advantage: the ability to essentially store electricity, which cannot currently be done, as fuel.

Sadly, this month was rather a boring month for space exploration, it seems. Some interesting discoveries were made about distant galaxies and commercial space flight is getting closer, but not a whole lot on that front otherwise. Hopefully August will be different because space exploration is always a good source of science news.

This rain is seriously crazy

Posted in Ridiculum on July 20th, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

Awesome.Yesterday, as I was ready to leave work, I asked a friend by the window if it was still raining outside. He told me that it wasn't, and so I headed downstairs in an attempt to beat the rain's return. I lost. When I got downstairs, it was pouring outside. A rain of epic proportions. I took the downtown tunnels a few blocks over to the building across the street from the Flying Saucer, waited for the light outside to change, and then ran across the street to wait out the deluge with beer. In crossing the street I was drenched to the bone.

I'm used to summer rain. I grew up with it, basically setting my clocks in the summer by the 3:00 pm rain shower that would occur daily. But what was awesome about those summer rains was that by 3:15 they were over and by 3:30 you couldn't even tell it had rained. Those were good summer rain showers.

These are not good showers. These are insane storms. There's flooding, the rain has been going on for more than a week, and every time you turn around, bam!, a fresh black cloud has shown up to ruin the day. It's simply insane.

Consider this for a minute: the average rainfall for Houston for year-to-yesterday is 26.9", according to Weather Underground (the meteorologists, not the terrorists). Last year, only 10.1" had fallen by that time, due to the horrible drought we had to bear. This year? We're up to 31.88". And it doesn't look like it's stopping anytime soon. We're basically five inches ahead of schedule, and it doesn't seem to be letting up. At this rate, we could potentially see almost a foot of rain we don't usually see by the end of this year.

I recall last year that meteorologists suggested that our horrible drought would continue at least another year, possibly through 2015. Yet here we are and clearly that drought is gone. At least in this part of the country. Elsewhere, there is drought indeed. Though since I'm here and not elsewhere, I find it a little hard to imagine. Perhaps we can send them some of our rain? We've got a couple extra inches.

This is crazy. It rained a little this morning, it's supposed to rain again tomorrow, Sunday, Monday, and possibly Tuesday. If it really lets up Wednesday, it'll be a miracle. I'm ready to send out doves to see if there's any dry land, because this rain is ridiculous.