In two years, the Seattle Mariners will have a new stadium to call home, without changing their address. The ballpark to be formerly known as Safeco Field is undergoing a corporate name change. In 2019, King Felix, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager will be playing in Boeing Park, or Amazon Yards or Starbucks Lot. Whatever the new moniker, chances are it will be a downgrade.
As corporate names go, Safeco isn’t bad, much closer to Citi Field than Guaranteed Rate Field. But even if the new name is truly representative of Seattle, Heroin Fields, for instance, we still lose. Names really aren’t made for the name holder, but for the rest of us. My name is primarily used by others, as a means to identify me, and thus changing it regularly would be a disservice to those who know me. It’s no different for stadia.
The question is, why do we go along with it? That some well-heeled corporate sugar daddy is willing to fork over big bucks to the local extortionist baseball owner for naming rights doesn’t mean we have to play along. Why should we be forced to follow all the latest merger and acquisition activity to keep up with the name outside that limestone and steel ode to corporate welfare?
Truth is, we shouldn’t. Until Delta Airlines or T-Mobile or Geico wants to cut us a check, we ought to just pick a name for the local ballpark and stick with it. No longer should we be required to know which telecommunications company is out front in the Bay Area or, which banking institution has bundled its way to supremacy in the Midwest to know where our favorite team is playing this weekend.
Starting soon, we’re going to change that. Both here, and at my primary home for online baseball activity, Baseball Think Factory, we’re going to establish new names, or at least validate the old ones, for all 30 ballparks. If you think Houston can do better than Minute Maid Park (and who doesn’t?), then let’s find a better name for the joint. Or, if you think the park at Clark and Addison can be known as nothing but Wrigley, that’s cool too.
I’ll introduce a new team, and solicit suggestions for a new name for the team’s ballpark. Perhaps the park is located adjacent to an interesting geographic feature of its host city, or near the site of an important event in history. Maybe there’s an interesting baseball connection, either with the home team or a ballplayer from the past. A significant local industry might have called that area of the city home at one point in time. I’m looking for the kind of name that will be unique to its home city, and one that can stand the test of time.
I’ll open up a new page here, at BTF, and maybe a few other places on the tubes, for nominations. At the end of the nomination period, I’ll hash out the best options among the nominees with a few like-minded Primates (fellow baseball junkies found at BTF) and we’ll offer a choice of four to vote on the following week.* Voting will take place exclusively at BTF. I don’t want to allow voting in more than one location, and the project idea originated over there.
Ideally, when we’re done, we’ll have a nice collection of distinct names that online baseball fans can use for each major league ballpark. And, for once, there’s not a damn thing MLB, the owners, the players, the media and anyone else can do about it. Taco Bell’s chief execs can toss a bunch of cash at some poor beleaguered billionaire owner, but they can’t force us to use Gordita Supreme Stadium in everyday conversation.
* Yeah, we’re picking the finalists. Boaty McBoatface was marginally funny. Once.