Monday, April 23, 2018

When do corporate identities for professional sports stadiums go too far?

SeatGeek Stadium.

You just know that name is going to bring about derision amongst Chicago sporting fans for the Chicago Fire professional soccer club.
SeatGeek the stadium off in the distance from the Loop
BUT IT SEEMS the Fire (not the actual blaze from 1871, but the team playing in a stadium built for their use out in suburban Bridgeview) will allow their home pitch to be given that public identity with the coming of the 2019 season.

This is the final year that their stadium will carry the name Toyota Park.

Which as far as I’m concerned isn’t really a loss, since I don’t care for building names that are meant to be nothing more than advertising for somebody else’s product. I’d love it if the building in which the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks had never been given a name promoting the interests of United Airlines.

But at least that was a Chicago-area entity. Unlike Toyota, which sells their products throughout the Chicago area, here but doesn’t really make them here.
Soldier, or Soldiers? Front room, or fronchroom?
COME 2019, IT will be SeatGeek Stadium. And yes, I’m sure there will be some people anal retentive enough to argue about whether there ought to be a space between “Seat” and “Geek,” or whether the company’s desires ought to be respected and the name spelled out as one word.

For the record, I had to look it up, since I had no idea what SeatGeek was. It seems it’s a website ( where one can go to find tickets to various types of events. Including sports.

And including professional soccer.
A corporate identity of nearly three decades

It seems the company is an official Major League Soccer corporate partner, and the Minnesota United, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City and LAFC (a Los Angeles-area team that competes with the more traditionally-named Los Angeles Galaxy) have partnerships.

I SUPPOSE WE should also include the Chicago Fire on that list, since the company has now bought the right to have their identity on the Fire’s building.

For what it’s worth, Bloomberg Markets reported that the deal could result in payments of up to $4 million annually to the Chicago Fire. Not a bad sum, although I wonder how seriously people will take a name like “SeatGeek.”

It makes me wonder if Chicago Fire fans will go out of their way to refuse to use the name and come up with their own identity for the stadium out in the southwestern suburb (not far from Midway Airport, if you must know).

Although I wonder if SeatGeek could surpass Guaranteed Rate Field in terms of an unpopular identity for sporting fans to use. Yes, there are many Chicago White Sox fans who haven’t come to terms with the latest corporate name the White Sox bought for themselves two years ago.
Is baseball's sporting superiority in large part because "Sox Park" ...
THERE ARE MANY Chicago Cubs fans who go out of their way to deride the stadium name, and for all I know they will refuse to let SeatGeek Stadium somehow become a tackier name than Guaranteed Rate. Just because, in their mini-mindsets, the White Sox have to rank at the bottom.

Although when it comes to Chicago stadium identities, I always thought the most off-beat debate concerned the home of the Chicago Bears and the great number of allegedly hard-core fans who persist in calling the building “Soldiers Field” rather than the proper “Soldier.”
... and "Cubs Park" make sense?

By comparison, I’m sure there will be some sports fans who will show derision for professional soccer (mostly because they don’t comprehend “real” football, which ain't da game da Bears play so badly these days) by refusing to acknowledge the Bridgeview stadium altogether.

It’s a shame that all sports teams can’t be like our baseball clubs – where there are some people who steadfastly call the stadiums “Sox Park” and “Cubs Park” regardless of whatever name appears on the marquee. That would make sporting sense, even if it wouldn’t generate the million-dollar payoffs for the teams themselves.


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