Friday, February 05, 2010

Name game

William Buckley was asked once if he had trouble writing newspaper columns on a regular basis. No, he said, he got annoyed at least three times a week.

Me, I got annoyed just the other day. The subject was the name of the stadium where the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday. It's going from Land Shark Stadium to Sun Life Stadium, as of Sunday. This stadium used to be known as Joe Robbie Stadium and Dolphins Stadium, and I'm probably missing three or four other names off the top of my head.

Now, I'm of two minds when it comes to stadium names. As a sports fan, the idea of selling naming rights still comes across as a little tacky, even though they've been doing it since I was in high school.

However, the taxpayer and football fan in my has other ideas. Here in Buffalo, the stadium is named after owner Ralph Wilson. The building was called Rich Stadium when it was built in 1973, and it stayed that way for 25 years. Rich Products bought the rights to it. Bob Rich was quoted in the Wall Street Journal the other day, saying that the Bills tried to bury the name during that era -- surprising since it wasn't a case of renaming the Louvre.

If the naming rights were sold now, they certainly would generate some income. I'm not sure under the current lease where the money would go. Would it land in the county's accounting department? It's fair to say Erie County could use some extra dollars without providing any services for it.

And if the money went to the Bills, that would be money that could close the revenue gap between the Bills and the big-market teams of the National Football League. Maybe an extra million dollars could get the Bills a starter somewhere and make the team more competitive.

Either way, it's left me ... annoyed.

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