Naming Rights and Naming Wrongs: Let’s Rename Those AL Ballparks!

Kauffman Stadium has some of the coolest naming possibilities of any American League park. (via teknokool)

In the age of corporate naming rights, major league baseball stadiums have acquired some pretty interesting names. They’ve also acquired some really, really bad ones.

Other appellations are more historic that others, of course, or at least more familiar.

This hardly suggests, however, that the classic names are ideal.

Or are they?

Let’s award ourselves the American League naming rights, shall we? (The NL will follow soon.)

AL CENTRAL

Progressive Field

They used to call it The Jake, and is there a better name than The Jake?

Now they call it Progressive Field. Call it The Prog at your peril.

Though the naming rights were handed to a car-insurance provider for $58 million, Progressive Field is not as nominally awful as its Cleveland counterpart, Quicken Loans Arena. Not only does “Progressive Field” flow trippingly from the tongue, it calls to mind progressive imperatives like equal All-Star voting rights for fan bases.

One more thing: As car-insurance companies go, “Progressive” sounds better than “AAA.” Were we to call it AAA Stadium, people might mistake it for Cooper Stadium in Columbus, home of the Triple-A Clippers. And with so many people screaming at their nav systems, the result might be a multi-vehicle pileup. Imagine the claims.

Totally Preposterous Name: Erie Silence Park

The lakeside stadium draws just 55 percent of capacity.

Less Preposterous Name: The Clevelander

It works for Miami!

Totally Serious Name: Forest City Field

Baseballs for Sale: Lightly Used, Heavily Marked Up
Game-used items are going for big bucks. Even the stuff underfoot isn't dirt cheap.

The Forest Citys played in Forest City for five seasons.

Target Field

Beyond center field is the famous Minnie and Paul sign. Minnie, in the uniform of the old Minneapolis Millers, is shaking hands with Paul, in the uniform of the St. Paul Saints. At their feet, the Mississippi River divides and unites them. What they share is a sign of the civic partnership that inspired the names Twin Cities and the Twins.

They weren’t always the Twins. They began as the Senators, of D.C.

Upon moving to Minnesota they played first at the outdoor Metropolitan Stadium and then at the indoor Metrodome.

In 2010, after the usual civic debate, the Twins took the field at Target. Alfresco again, they beat Boston in the home opener, 5-2, as an amazingly uninjured Carl Pavano pitched six frames and yielded one run. In the seventh, Minny’s Jason Kubel hit Target’s first dinger. Minnie and Paul, in programmed response, shook on it.

Totally Preposterous Name: Land of Fewer Than 10,000 Stadiums Stadium

Yep, 10,000 lakes need space, leaving less room for ballparks.

Less Preposterous Name: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson Stadium

Full House prefigures full house.

Totally Serious Name: North Star Ballyard

Minnesota is also known as the Gopher State. Let’s stick with North Star State.

Comerica Park

Tiger Stadium — the name conjures Cobb and Kaline, Gehringer and Greenberg, men whose sepia-toned images have romanced the common fondness for good old nostalgia. On September 27, 1999, though, Tigers reliever Todd Jones fanned Kansas City’s Carlos Beltran on a 2-2 pitch to close an 8-2 Detroit victory and complete the coda for the classic Corktown ballpark.

Six months later, on April 11, 2000, the Tigers opened the new era by playing their inaugural game in the newly christened park, Comerica Bank having shelled out $66 million for the right to name it.

Jones closed the debut, too, retiring Jay Buhner to seal the ninth against Seattle. So there you had it: an opening win, on a 36-degree day, at a park named for a financial services company whose headquarters has since moved to Dallas.

Of course, as a corporate name, Comerica Park isn’t awful. Come what may, it sounds very much like “America.” Still, it’s weird that the land of J.R. now claims the namer. What better time, then, to rename the stadium?

Totally Preposterous Name: Motown & Country Field

When naming a stadium, appease fans of multiple music genres.

Less Preposterous Name: Hockeytown Baseball Park

When naming a stadium, appease fans of multiple sports.

Totally Serious Name: Tiger Stadium

When naming a stadium, go with a classic … provided it’s not an Edsel.

Guaranteed Rate Field

Unless I’m forgetting Preparation H Ballpark, Guaranteed Rate Field is the worst name in the history of baseball stadia, guaranteed. It is the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl of ballparks. Its corporate-backed counterparts in the AL Central at least sound as if they rejected those juicy corporate dollars.

1) We’re progressive!

2) We’re a target! … for fans of baseball!

3) We’re co-American!

Conversely, as a name, Guaranteed Rate Field is so completely craptastic it makes you wax nostalgic for the glory days of U.S. Cellular Field. Granted, it’s hard to get sentimental about a ballpark named for a regional telecommunications carrier, but let’s get maudlin, shall we? Remember that time, back at the Cell, when Michael Barrett clocked A.J. Pierzynski right in the kisser? Ahhhhhhhh, those were the days.

Totally Preposterous Name: Anything Other Than Guaranteed Rate Field Field

The name says it all.

Less Preposterous Name: Not Wrigley Field Field

The name says it all.

Totally Serious Name: South Side Ballyard

The name says all you need.

Kauffman Stadium

Among AL Central ballparks, Kauffman is the only one to Just Say No to corporate naming rights. It opened, in 1973, with a different name: Royals Stadium. On April 10 of that season, the Royals hosted Texas in the AL’s first game on AstroTurf. The Rangers must’ve preferred grass. They lost, 12-1.

Now, 45 seasons hence, the stadium is the AL’s fourth-oldest. Its name, honoring onetime owner Ewing Kauffman, is younger, begotten in 1993. By whatever name, the stadium is famed for its fountains. Stretching 322 feet in width, they honor the sobriquet of the host municipality, the City of Fountains. Call it deeply cool.

Kauffman’s other distinction is this: In an era when cookie-cutter stadiums were built as multipurpose facilities, it came into being as a baseball-only stadium. Aside from ’70s concerts featuring Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac and REO Speedwagon, it’s continued to serve a lone purpose: Royals baseball. Call it loyal to the crown.

Totally Preposterous Name: Corona Extra Ballpark

Corporate tie-in, meet regal theme!

Less Preposterous Name: Crown Royal Field

Corporate tie-in, meet Royal theme! New fountain feature: Whisky River.

Totally Serious Name: Crown Jewel Field

It’s beautiful, valuable and maybe a fave of Royals Jeff King and Tom Prince.

AL WEST

Angel Stadium

For whatever reason, be it the freeway modernism of Anaheim or the Disney overtones of its locale, Angel Stadium is rarely afforded the same veneration as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium, the only three stadiums in baseball whose construction predates The Big A’s.

Fact is, the Angels have called it home—albeit by several names, including, egad, Edison International Field of Anaheim—since 1966, when, on the night of April 19, Angels starter Marcelino Lopez retired White Sox center fielder Tommie Agee to open its debut game. Since that time, several name changes have fallen not only upon the stadium but also its occupant.

Another name change, then, should hardly rank as radical.

But what shall it be? Famously, The Big A features the Big A, that A-shaped sign, some 230 feet in height, topped with a halo that probably lit up on the day Mike Trout was born. It also features the California Spectacular, Earth’s only mountainscape to launch fireworks on the occasion of a home run.

Angels both sporting and cinematic have graced its outfield.

Notably, Reggie once tried to shoot the Queen.

Totally Preposterous Name: Mike Trout Plays Here Ballpark

Baseball’s greatest player + location accuracy + “Ballpark” = profit.

Less Preposterous Name: Pearly Gates Park

Angels’ home + pearly turnstiles + parking lots = gate receipts.

Totally Serious Name: Promised Land Park of Anaheim

Celestial/terrestrial double entendre + Park = earned interest.

Oakland Coliseum

Oakland Coliseum should feature a mangled railway at second base, because that place is a train wreck. First, it’s the one stadium to host both a baseball team—namely, the A’s—and a football team—namely, the Raiders—and there’s nothing like watching an outfielder make a diving grab at the 40-yard line.

Second, so enormous is its foul territory that it should petition Congress for statehood. Call it Foulifornia. State motto: The Land Where Long At-Bats Go To Die.

Third, there’s Mount Davis, home of history’s largest, greenest Saran wrap.

Lastly, its plumbing is an unnatural disaster. One sewage backup resulted in the A’s and Mariners showering together, more or less, in the Raiders locker room. Another caused the Angels to file a formal complaint while voicing concern about the presence of a virulent coliform bacteria. So, before the A’s inevitably move, let’s turn to the nearest alphabet and … rename that stadium!

Totally Preposterous Name: E. Coliseum.

Given the excremental conditions, naming rights go to E. Coli.

Less Preposterous Name: Ti-D-Bol Toilet Cleaner Field

Turn … something into lemonade.

Totally Serious Name: U-Haul Park

Relevant corporate tie-in: Park U-Haul. Load. Move.

Safeco Field

On June 22, 2007, the Reds visited Safeco Field for a three-game interleague series. With them was Junior, aka The Kid, former franchise star of the Mariners.

On that night in Seattle, the Mariners honored Ken Griffey Jr. by unveiling a poster that called their stadium “The House That Griffey Built.” Griffey, despite his extraordinary gifts, didn’t actually build it. Per FanGraphs, retractable-roof technology is absent from Junior’s skill set.

The builder, if you must know, was The Erection Company Inc., and it put together an innovative arena that combined the best of the indoor and outdoor worlds. To block Seattle’s drizzle, it built a roof that closes in 10 minutes. To invite Seattle’s climate, it built a roof that serves as a big umbrella, leaving open-air sides.

Griffey didn’t build it, but he did come.

He came, specifically, to Selective Auto and Fire Ensurance Company Field.

Totally Preposterous Name: SOOCROOF, aka The Sooc

Selectively Opened Or Closed Roof Field is more awkward.

Less Preposterous Name: Parasol Park

Umbrella roof? Class up the joint, absolument.

Totally Serious Name: The Emerald, aka The M

The civic sobriquet makes for a stadium name of excellent color and clarity.

Minute Maid Park

Once upon a time, Minute Maid Park was Enron Field. This is like calling your stadium Exxon Valdez Park or Bernie L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC Yards.

On February 27, 2002, in the wake of the massive accounting fraud that unplugged Enron and sent its avaricious execs to the hoosegow, the Houston franchise renamed its stadium Astros Field. Five months later, Minute Maid purchased the naming rights. Ultimately, the Big Citrus tie-in gave rise to the sweet sobriquet The Juice Box.

It’s a great nickname, The Juice Box, and as corporate names go, Minute Maid Park is pretty chill. It’s got rhythm and alliteration and is mercifully absent the awkwardness of Guaranteed Rate Residential Mortgage Co. Headquartered In Chicago And Winner Of The 2011 Lender Of The Year Award, or whatever it’s called.

What shall this one be called? Minute Maid’s got a cute little train.

It’s got those cute little Crawford Boxes, where routine flies turn into walk-offs.

And it used to have Tal’s Hill, the Bad Idea Jeans of ballpark design.

Totally Preposterous Name: The Hitter-Friendly Confines

My grandma could homer there, and she’s dead.

Less Preposterous Name: Taylor Swift Pavilion & Souvenir Kiosk

She’s played there twice and has a song called Call It What You Want.

Totally Serious Name: Space City Field

The Astros are the Astros for a reason. Houston, we have a stadium.

Globe Life Park in Arlington

I’m a Rangers fan, which might explain my terrible outlook on life, but the larger point is that, despite my Rangers bed sheet and Adrian Beltre pillow case, even I cannot keep pace with the litany of names that have graced that Arlington yard.

As the successor to the entry-level Arlington Stadium, the ballpark in Arlington is only a quarter-century old, but in that span it has sported no fewer than four names, including, get this, The Ballpark In Arlington.

What do all the names have in common? They end “in Arlington.”

To that end, what’s another name? — especially in Arlington.

First, it must be said: On April 21, 2018, following yet another Rangers loss, Smash Mouth played at what is now known as Globe Life Park in Arlington. It must also be said that it won’t be Globe Life Park in Arlington much longer. In 2020, the Rangers will move into a new stadium in Arlington. This one, with a retractable roof, will boast a climate-controlled atmosphere, all of it in Arlington.

Obviously, when it comes to naming rights, we haven’t much time.

So don’t delay, act now, supplies are ru-u-nning out.

Totally Preposterous Name: Walkin’ on the SunTrust Stadium

Smash Mouth, meet bankin’ money!

Less Preposterous Name: Kenny Rogers Roasters Park

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, and when to throw a perfect game.

Totally Serious Name: Texas State Park

I have a Texas State Parks Pass. Maybe I’ll get in free.

AL EAST

Yankee Stadium

Face it, fellow sufferers of Yankee Fatigue Syndrome: Yankee Stadium, like the team that calls it home, is the most famous name in the game. To date, at least 13 movies have featured the renowned Bronx arena, and TV’s Seinfeld used it so often that the back of The Boss’s head became a character all its own. But that, of course, was the old stadium — The House That Ruth Built!

The new stadium, opened in 2009, boasts the same name but not the same stature. Critics have panned it for being graveyard quiet and Ritz expensive. And how about those softball-field dimensions? Combine its short porches with its wind-tunnel effect and Yankee Stadium is a home run waiting to happen. Baseball writer Peter Gammons called it “one of the biggest jokes in baseball.”

The punchline, of course, is that the Yanks are still the Yanks.

Totally Preposterous Name: The Broom Tomb

The Yanks have swept a lot of teams, but still: Keep your voices down.

Less Preposterous Name: The House That Ruth Rebuilt

Without that Ruthian legacy, would the Bombers be the Bombers?

Totally Serious Name: Yankee Stadium

Props, dearest Death Star, for stiff-arming corporate naming rights.

Fenway Park

Boston’s ballyard is the oldest in the bigs. It’s also the oddest, and the oddities aren’t contrived. Owing to its constrained location, it has adapted with a monstrous wall and a pesky pole. It’s a storied place. Babe Ruth made his big league debut at Fenway, striking out once as a batter and striking out one batter as a pitcher. Years hence, Ted Williams painted a seat red by bashing a 502-foot dinger into it.

Folks have called it a “shrine,” a “cathedral,” a “national treasure,” words not often applied to Tampa’s Tropicana Field. Still, it suffered decades of doom and gloom, when, from 1919 to 2003, it went without a World Series flag. Bostonians blamed the Babe and the curse he wrought after the Bosox sold him to the hated Yankees of neighboring New York.

Only Edgar Renteria’s 2004 bouncer back to closer Keith Foulke would remove the Ruthian jinx. Perhaps ironically, it didn’t happen at Fenway. It happened at Busch.

Still, bon voyage, Bambino Curse.

Totally Preposterous Name: The Bean on the Green

Beantown beans are as revered as Paul; its grass is green like its Monster.

Less Preposterous Name: The House That Ruth Didn’t Build

He posted 89 wins and 49 dingers for Boston, but his debut came after Fenway’s.

Totally Serious Name: Fenway Park

Props, dearest Cathedral, for not being Foxwood’s Fenway & Casino.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, aka Camden Yards

Not only was Babe Ruth born in Baltimore, his dad operated a saloon there. And not only did George Herman Ruth Sr. operate a saloon there, the saloon stood where Camden Yards now graces Charm City near the Inner Harbor.

That’s right: When Dylan Bundy gives up a local homer, or when Chris Davis provincially whiffs, he’s doing it on hallowed — albeit booze-blotched — ground.

More than a monument to the place where a young Ruth Jr. drank beer when Ruth Sr. wasn’t looking, Camden Yards is the most influential stadium of the modern era. Its retro-classic design, borrowing elements from the jewel-box ballyards of yesteryear, inspired nearly every new stadium in its wake, from Comerica Park to Coors Field.

When it came to cookie-cutters, it broke the old mold.

Totally Preposterous Name: Architectural Digest’s Playpark of the Month

“The stadium is a big fan of baseball and enjoys long walks to first base.”

Less Preposterous Name: The House That Ruth Built A Saloon Beneath

Historians aren’t sure how Sr. squeezed an entire saloon under there.

Totally Serious Name: Camden Yards

Like Yankee Stadium and Fenway, it’s a classic. Keep. Don’t sell.

Rogers Centre

In 1977, when Toronto got the baseball team it had for decades craved, the Jays played in a Canadian Football League venue called Exhibition Stadium. Upon recognizing that a field with 25-yard end zones is, at best, suboptimal for baseball, Toronto in 1986 broke ground for the world’s first retractable-roof stadium and let fans submit names for their new home. Choosing from 12,879 submissions, which included Railway Place and Zipper Dome, officials settled on one: SkyDome.

A quarter century later, the franchise stepped aboard the poutine-gravy train by selling the naming rights to Rogers Communications for 25 million Canadian dollars. Money is money, no matter the historical faces that grace its foldable bills, but Canadians and Americans should agree that the name Rogers Centre, vis-a-vis SkyDome, is more reminiscent of a suburban mall.

Totally Preposterous Name: The Flipatorium

Joey Bats, your exuberance will long outlive you — as will Odor’s punch.

Less Preposterous Name: The House That (Retractable) Roof Built

Once first, always first — let us honor the engineering.

Totally Serious Name: Blue Jays Ballpark, aka The Birdhouse

Alliteration, brevity, rhythm — this name’s got it all. Retweet!

Tropicana Field

In 1996, today’s Tropicana Field had a much different name: ThunderDome. How cool is that? You envision a wild-haired Tina Turner, in her chainmail onesie, taking out Master Blaster in a violent, bread-and-circuses collision at home plate.

Later that year, though, Tropicana Products beat the everlovin’ pulp out of ThunderDome by purchasing the naming rights, and in 1998, the expansion Devil Rays and their 40-year-old utilityman, Wade Boggs, began calling the dome home with the first of 10 consecutive seasons with 71 or fewer wins.

In 1998 came a change in name and fortune, as the newly christened Rays posted their first winning season and went on to their lone World Series. But the success did little for the only domed stadium in the majors. Its catwalks turn homers into doubles, pop-ups into fiascos. More, its ceiling shares a color with baseballs. For outfielders, finding a fly ball is like finding Waldo in an an off-white onesie.

Talk is of a brand-new park. Will it have a brand-new name?

Until then, we can only rename The Trop.

Totally Preposterous Name: Bed Bath & Beyond ThunderDome

Corporate naming rights, meet Hollywood!

Less Preposterous Name: The House That (Non-Retractable) Roof Built

The AL East will punish me for this pun, and in ruthless fashion.

Totally Serious Name: BlunderDome

The suggestion, like the stadium, is actually kind of a joke.

Next time: the National League.


John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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MichaelE
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Member
MichaelE

It’s great that Camden Yards, despite not being old, does not have a corporate name attached to it.

MikeS
Member
MikeS

Not only is “Guaranteed Rate Field” the worst corporate sponsorship in all of sports, their logo – a big red arrow pointing downward – is terrible for a sports team. Although it is appropriate for the current White Sox.

david k
Member
david k

I would say University of Phoenix Stadium is right up there. Think about it. The Cardinals played in Sun Devil Stadium, named after the college team, until they finally got their own stadium, which they promptly named after another college. So it still feels like they’re playing in another college stadium.

AZCardman
Member
AZCardman

The Cardinals renamed the stadium this year – it’s now called “State Farm Stadium”.

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd

Great article! But:

The Clippers haven’t used Cooper stadium in about ten years. As far as I know, it still stands, but they have a very nice, shiny new ballpark called Huntington Field, which also isn’t bad as far as corporate names go.

jencws
Member
jencws

Great article, but MICHAEL Barrett not Marty Barrett. Although, I’d love to think that. my all-time favorite player came back fifteen years after his retirement to punch AJ

catzdogz
Member
catzdogz

The biggest problem with Kenny Rogers Roasters Balllark is that the company only currently exists in Asia. Still good chicken though. It’s the wood that makes it good!

david k
Member
david k

Cosmo Kramer agrees with you

WoundedSprinter
Member
Member
WoundedSprinter

I can’t believe you didn’t go for “Erection Park.”

It’s time we honored the people who actually build these things, that’s what I say.

And don’t tell me that you wouldn’t get a perverse pleasure out of telling your friends that you are going to “the Erection.”

Yehoshua Friedman
Member
Yehoshua Friedman

He’s not that much of a dick.

timprov
Member
timprov

Are you driving there in your Woody?

Paul G.
Member
Paul G.
Anaheim’s ballpark gets no respect because it has the feel of a second-hand movie set. When I was there I half expected a giant “boulder” to roll down the center field “rocks” and chase the umpire after an especially bad call. (If Mo Vaughn was on the bases he was a goner.) Or perhaps it was a Disney stage that was lost to the Mouse during the great theme park wars and had a stadium built around it like defensive walls. As we all know, cartoon characters are incapable of assaulting walls as they are contractually obligated to splat into… Read more »
ryancc
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ryancc

When you do the National League, I’ll be incredibly disappointed if you decide to change the Great American Ballpark.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Even Greater More American Ballpark

Art Fay
Member
Art Fay

Is Wrigley Field the first corporate sellout name? Looking forward to you addressing this in the NL version. Nowadays the name Wrigley Field is iconic, but back in the day was the total sellout frowned upon?

Paul G.
Member
Paul G.

It’s arguable. The thing it was originally named Weeghman Park as Charles Weeghman built the stadium and owned the Chicago Whales that played there. Weeghman was a businessman but it does not seem he was explicitly naming the park as a corporate ploy. When William Wrigley, Jr. bought him out he eventually named the park after himself. Of course, he also owned a company named after himself. It’s a gray area.

Lanidrac
Member
Lanidrac

So when did the Wrigley company start paying the Cubs for that naming right?

Yehoshua Friedman
Member
Yehoshua Friedman

Try and wriggle out of that before you gum up the works!

87 Cards
Member
87 Cards

1. I understand, within Wisconsin, margarine may only be served by a food-service establishment if requested by the diner. Give this oleo-challenged culture, the citizens of Milwaukee County will have truly sold-out when BlueBonnet Margarine has any sponsorship with the Brewers.

2. During the this time of losing-badly and with purpose in Baltimore, I’d like to see Camden Yards called the Chesapeake Tank– where the birds keep wins at-bay and also contract the muscles of their throats to make a partial vacuum to intake fluid in an audible manner.

BenjiSeashore
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BenjiSeashore

Is it weird that I read it as cheapstake instead of Chesapeake?

texasfury93
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texasfury93

It’s great that the writer still believes Minute Maid Park is a hitter-friendly ballpark. To be fair, he did state that he is a Rangers fan.

david k
Member
david k

When I first saw the headline for this article, I thought the name for Fenway should be “The House that Ruth…Nevermind…” but your name for it came pretty close to what I was thinking.

As for Guaranteed Rate Field, why not use one of the crappiest names for a ballpark for one of the crappiest ballparks in MLB in one of the crappiest locations (Oakland’s stadium and location may actually be worse, and I’m hard-pressed to find any others that rival those two).

And I kind of like Gopher Ball Park for Minnesota, although pitchers may not like it so much.

timprov
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timprov

I’ll be disappointed if the Miami stadium isn’t The House that Ruthlessness Built. Though it’s not like there’s a shortage of jokes.

Dennis Bedard
Member
Dennis Bedard

in honor of Yankee Stadium’s prominence in films, i nominate “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy
Stadium.”

John Elway
Member

Racehorses get saddled with some of the stupidest names ever. But if some poor horse got stuck with “Guarantee Rate Field” for a name, they’d shoot it.

Just neighing.

AZCardman
Member
AZCardman

Every time I think of Elway I think of Howard Stern’s nickname for his producer: “Horse-toothed Jackass”.
Baba-booey!!!

scottrat
Member
scottrat

“Baseball writer Peter Gammons called it “one of the biggest jokes in baseball.””

So a famed Boston sportswriter calling another team’s stadium a joke is like the pot calling the kettle black. I understand that the dimenstions were dictated by the surrounding streets but come on. How about calling it Pinball Park?

timprov
Member
timprov

I think the Yankees qualify as a soulless megacorporation.

SoSH U
Member
SoSH U

For those unaware, we’ve been doing this very thing for the past 15 months over at BTF under the name Taking Back the Ballparks. We have renamed (or confirmed the old name) for 27 of the 30 parks, with three still left to vote on. Anyone interested in participating is welcome to contribute.

Jetsy Extrano
Member
Jetsy Extrano

E. Coliseum is a work of glory.