It appears as if nothing is sacred in sports, and once again fans were reminded on Wednesday that sports are still a corporation, always looking to sell to the highest bidder. Over the past 20 years, as more stadium are being built across the country, corporations continue to use the as large-scale advertising, buying out the rights to have their name in the stadium’s title.
The Chicago White Sox announced that they would re-name U.S. Cellular Field to Guaranteed Rate Field starting in 2017. This change arguably makes Chicago’s stadium the worst-named stadium in Major League Baseball. What might be the most shocking about the move isn’t even the awful name itself, but the fact that a stadium that was already in existence can just change its name to the highest bidder.
This isn’t the only time this has happened. One recent example is when the Cleveland Indians renamed their stadium from Jacobs Field to Progressive Field in 2009.
There’s no salary cap in baseball, so the contracts that the owners pay out are extraordinary. These teams, though, gain revenue from ticket prices, merchandise, food and drinks, television deals, and marketing throughout the stadium. For the teams to need to sell the rights of a stadium to a corporation makes the team look a little desperate. Look, this isn’t unique to just the White Sox.
When the Detroit Tigers opened their new stadium, they tore down Tiger Stadium to erect Comerica Park (named after a bank). The Minnesota Twins moved out of the Metrodome to play in Target Field (yes, that Target). The New York Mets moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field (another bank stadium). It’s a growing trend that has spread across much of baseball.
In a time of corporate influence across baseball, it’s nice to see the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins keep the team’s name in their ballpark. When the New York Yankees built their new stadium in 2009, they made it a point to explain early-on that the stadium would still be named after the team and not a corporation.
Part of that had to do with a large amount of money being brought in by tax-payer dollars, but nevertheless, the new stadium remains Yankee Stadium. The Miami Marlins were originally going to use taxpayer money to pay for their stadium, but the idea was shot down, and they eventually pulled money from a tourist-spending account to build their stadium. Regardless of the circumstance, the Marlins kept the team’s name in the stadium instead of selling out to a corporation.
The announcement of the stadium’s name change comes amidst a season that just makes this news one more bruise on the 2016 season. The team started the season atop the American League Central, but has since become fourth in the division, five games under .500, and 12 games out of the division lead. The latest excitement from the White Sox previously dealt with an ace getting sent home for cutting up jerseys.
It has been a season to forget for the White Sox, and hopefully, they can guarantee their fans more than a fixed rate mortgage, perhaps they can guarantee their fans a change in the team’s direction.