Posts Tagged ‘rockets’

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.

Why does ESPN ignore Texas?

Posted in Sports and Games on February 20th, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

Even though T-Mac had led the team during the streak, and Yao had a season-ending injury, ESPN still, at win #22, picked Kevin Garnett as MVP, though his supporting cast was one of the best.Today on Mike & Mike in the morning, there was a very brief mention of San Antonio’s ten game winning streak that puts them into the number two spot in the NBA’s western conference. This was carefully hidden in a discussion about the Chicago Bulls (#2 in the East), New York Knicks (#8 in the East), and LA Lakers (#5 in the West).

It would have been completely foolish to not mention San Antonio at all, but it seems like ESPN often tries to do exactly this when Texas should be in the spotlight. While Linsanity is clearly taking over the Knicks, it only took two wins before the sports world went crazy. Meanwhile, the Spurs are quietly tearing it up, almost unbeknownst to anyone outside of San Antonio.

Two years back when the Texas Rangers made their first World Series, a lot of people were surprised, largely because the talking heads had almost entirely forgotten that there was a baseball team in Dallas. The Rangers had been in control of the AL West since June 8, 104 games before the season ended, with the only major national recognition coming on June 24, at the tail end of an eleven game winning streak, and shortly before the playoffs began.

Meanwhile, ESPN was happy to talk about the AL East battle between the Yankees and Red Sox, only one of whom, the Yankees, would go on to the playoffs, as a wild card. Time was devoted to discussing the Angels, the White Sox, and all matter of teams in the National League, but it was almost as if the Rangers didn’t exist.

A couple years back, the ‘07-‘08 Houston Rockets went on an amazing twenty-two game winning streak. Amazing because the feat has only been accomplished once before: the ‘71-‘72 Lakers won thirty-three in a row. The coverage of this amazing streak? An occasional mention here and there once the Rockets hit eleven, but no real news until they won twenty, passing Milwaukee’s previous #2 longest streak. This even though the Rockets outscored their opponents by an average of twelve points per game.

With the exception of football, it’s almost as though ESPN thinks that Texas doesn’t have any sports. There may be states that are even more ignored by the sportscasters, but I even hear more mentions about the Utah Jazz or the Memphis Grizzlies than I do about all three Texas NBA teams combined. It seems to me that in most cases, ESPN ignores Texas. And I’d like to know why.

Two Nets Games (Rockets, Heat)

Posted in Sports and Games on April 4th, 2011 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

Over the past couple days I’ve travelled to Newark, NJ twice, in order to see two basketball games. The downside is that I had to visit New Jersey. But the upside is that since the Nets are awful, they lost both games, and more importantly, I had a generally good time.

I've always been partial to the old Rockets logo. The newer ones are too cheesy, whereas this one was just clean, simple, and nice.March 29, Rockets win 112-87

So I went to this game for two reasons: the tickets were only five dollars, and I got to see the Rockets without having to later be spammed relentlessly by their marketing department. (Seriously, the emails never stop, if you so much as buy one ticket from them. No unsubscribe link either.)

Anyway, it was good. The Rockets jumped to an early lead and never looked back. It’s good to see a Houston team winning, a word that other Houston teams don’t seem to understand. Interestingly, perhaps because the Nets suck, there were almost as many Rockets fans as Nets fans, and Rockets scoring elicited quite a loud response.

April 3, Heat win 108-94

Speaking of which, there were certainly more fans of the Heat (or perhaps just of LeBron James) than the Nets. I was one of them, a fan of LeBron, as that linked post states.

I went to this game, though it cost roughly eight times as much as the Rockets game, because I wanted to see LeBron and Wade in their first year together. And I did, and it was as I expected.

LeBron had a great game, just shy of a triple-double (31/11/7), with two pretty fantastic highlights. I’d love to link to videos of them, but the NBA, like other sporting associations, hates the idea of fans actually enjoying the game outside of the stadium. So, no videos for you.

Anyway, both games were fun. The Prudential Center is nice but seemed small. There were basically three levels of seats. We sat in the middle level for the Rockets game and the top for the Heat.

Also at both games the National Anthem was butchered by the performers. First was a big guy who clearly didn’t feel okay just singing the words and tune as written and decided to change both. Second was Miri Ben-Ari, the Israeli violinist, who decided to completely rewrite the tune and basically could not have done more damage if she had defecated on the flag at the same time. My god.

That aside, I had a great time and hopefully will not have a reason to return to Jersey anytime soon.

Naming Rights: Companies I refuse to support for reasons of loyalty

Posted in Sports and Games on February 21st, 2011 by Nathan – 3 Comments

Of course it should be obvious that I love Minute Maid. Delicious.I’m very brand-loyal. I love Dr Pepper and hate Mr Pibb. When it comes to shoes, I only wear Nike. I’m not even remotely interested in other shoes. Once a company has earned my loyalty, it’s hard, though possible, for me to break away, simply because I believe that once a company has proven itself, I know their products are good. The brand stands for something, and that’s very important.

However, this post has very little to do with brand loyalty. Instead, it has to do with a big box store that I think is useless, will probably soon be out of business, and offers an inferior shopping experience compared to Amazon or other e-retailers. I’m talking about Staples.

I don’t shop at Staples for many of the reasons above, but also for one other (seemingly ridiculous but important) reason: Staples has the naming rights to the Staples Center, where the LA Lakers play. As a Rockets fan, I abhor the Los Angeles Lakers and therefore will not support the business that graces their stadium.

Now, this doesn’t always hold true. For instance, I support FedEx because there’s really no reasonable alternative (UPS for some things, but too often FedEx is in a better location or offers better services) even though the Redskins are sponsored by FedEx. However, it’s easy to avoid Busch beer (St. Louis Cardinals), Wrigley Gum (Chicago Cubs), American Airlines (Dallas Mavericks), or the myriad companies that I have no interaction with, such as Lincoln Financial (Philadelphia Eagles) or Louisiana-Pacific (Tennessee Titans).

I encourage you to adopt this practice whenever possible: let companies know that the stadiums they choose to support are meaningful. It’s one thing to support your teams on field, but a whole other off field.