Corporate sponsorship of arenas taints America’s great pastime

Bryan Warrick and Bryan Warrick

Baseball has been the American pastime for over 100 years. With every major event and era this nation has seen in that time, baseball has been there to cheer us up and make the summer great.

But in the last few years, baseball has become more like America in a negative way. It has started to sell out and over-commercialize just to make some extra bills.

Now, I don’t mean teams should not advertise; there is nothing wrong with that. What I’m talking about is teams giving away the naming rights to their stadiums and ballparks.

Every city in the nation that has a baseball team is filled with history of the sport. With such a storied past, it just seems wrong that stadiums now have names like Comerica Park, Target Field and Progressive Field. Names like this are embarrassing to the sport and it seems to be getting worse with each year.

When new stadiums are built, the host teams and cities apparently can’t do it on their own. So, they have large companies come in to help out, selling out the names of these temples to baseball legends. Comerica Park, which opened in 2000, Citi Field in 2009, and Target Field in 2010 are all key examples.

Have these companies ever been to a baseball game? For many people, baseball is more than a sport. It’s history is filled with great names and achievements. The ballparks where these events happen are considered holy ground. They are the temples where baseball gods play. Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Tiger Stadium; these places are just as famous as the players who called them home.

What if the house that Ruth built had been called AIG Field? It just seems to be a great sin against baseball, and by association, us.

The worst was a blasphemy carried out in Cleveland a few years ago. In the case of parks like Detroit’s Comerica and Minnesota’s Target Field, it is horrible they sold out their names, but at the same time it does make some sense. New stadiums can be very expensive, especially for teams that have to pay big bucks for their players. Selling the name rights to companies does make some sense, even if it is evil.

But in Cleveland, there is no new stadium. One day the ballpark was called Jacobs Field, the next it was called Progressive Field. No new stadium for the city; they just couldn’t afford to maintain the park and keep it in decent shape, so they sold the name. What kind of baseball town is that? They would rather just sell the name and all the history connected to it, then spend their own money or try to get the money to fix up the park on their own? This is just wrong.

But these towns are not the only ones. Cities all over the country with local baseball team are selling off their park’s name for some extra cash and sponsors.

In a time when baseball is having a slight problem with steroids and other scandals, it cannot continue to forget its past like this.

It’s still Jacobs Field. Tiger Stadium is still in the memory of every Detroiter and the Astro Dome, still makes Minnesota proud. Baseball is America’s pastime and it is as much a part of us as anything else you can think of. Those stadiums are holy ground of this pastime, and a holy land should not be named after a bank or grocery store. Stick with the real and classical names.

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