diamond geezer

 Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When a sporting stadium is renamed after a big corporate sponsor, do you think "Ooh, I'd never heard of them before, but they must be a really fantastic company so I'll go out immediately and buy all their products"? Or do you think "sellout"? I know which one it is for me.

Here's a list of Britain's top 10 most sold-out stadia (unless, of course, you know better)

1) Ricoh Arena (Coventry City): You what? Ricoh are obviously a sponsor selected for their millions rather than for their name. Does "Ricoh Arena" make you think football stadium? Of course it doesn't. You probably can't even pronounce the name properly. I reckon Ricoharena sounds more like a seedy hotel complex on the Costa Brava, or maybe a dodgy Spanish dance involving smearing oneself over the nether regions of ones partner. But hey, Coventry have decided (in their shareholders' infinite wisdom) to name their new stadium after a photocopier manufacturer whose "software solutions are designed to enhance your document lifecycle". If this is the future of football, God help us all.
2) Emirates Stadium (Arsenal): Because there's nothing one associates more with top class football than long haul Middle East air travel, right? Wrong. Arsenal's chairman admitted to having mixed feelings about selling naming rights for the Gunners' new stadium to an airline, but said £100m was too good to resist. I bet it was. No wonder most true supporters continue to call the new place Ashburton Grove or, even better, Highbury.
3) Reebok Stadium (Bolton Wanderers): One of the first (and boldest) stadium rebranding opportunity scenarios. You wonder if Bolton fans are wholly delighted by their sci-fi-tastic modern stadium, or secretly embarrassed to be associated with a sportswear manufacturer who are not quite cool enough.
4) JJB Stadium (Wigan Athletic): Whatever happened to naming your stadium after the street in which it's located? Doesn't pay enough sponsorship money, I guess. In this case maybe Robin Park didn't sound quite serious enough, but it's still surely better than being named after a discount warehouse for hoodies.
5) KitKat Crescent (York City): Yes really. York's tiny ground at Bootham Crescent was renamed after a chocolate bar as part of a two-year sponsorship deal with confectionery giants Nestlé Rowntree. Who then promptly sacked 645 local factory workers. There's brand loyalty for you.
6) The Brit Oval (Surrey County Cricket Club): Surrey have always seemed willing to prostitute their naming rights to whoever pays them the most money. Over the last few years their world-famous cricket ground has been called the Fosters Oval (strewth), the AMP Oval (who?) and now the Brit Oval (after an insurance company you'd not otherwise have heard of, and maybe still haven't).
7) Walkers Stadium (Leicester City): It could have been worse. Leicester's new stadium was nearly called the Walkers Bowl, which is both hideously American and far too easily satirised (a "bowl of crisps"? please no). Leicester supporters with a modicum of self-respect prefer to call their new stadium Filbert Way, so I'm told, which at least doesn't make anyone think of over-perky jug-eared potato munchers.
8) Grattan Stadium (Bradford Bulls): That's a rugby ground named after a mail-order catalogue full of lingerie, ladies shoes and garden furniture. Good grief. I'll let the stadium's PR give the case for the defence... "Known the world over as the home of the awesome Bradford Bulls, Grattan Stadium is a unique and unforgettable destination ideal for a wide range of on-field and indoor sporting, cultural and corporate events." They just don't get it, do they?
9) Madejski Stadium (Reading): I suppose it's acceptable to name a football stadium after the chairman if he's poured millions into the club and brought it rare success. But it's still sheer unbridled megalomania, isn't it?
10) The McDonalds Double Quarter Pounder Stadium (2012 Olympics): It's OK, I've made this one up. Seb & Co have yet to announce the key domestic partners for the London 2012 Olympics, and the IOC wouldn't allow such blatant advertising anyway. But I bet some deranged PR executive somewhere is trying to change the rules to make it happen.

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