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Gordon Monson: RSL’s stadium name will end up with another corporate sponsor, but wouldn’t Nick Rimando Stadium be cooler?

Teams love the money that comes from selling their stadiums’ naming rights, but hanging on to history provides a sense of place for fans

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Socially distanced fans cheer on Real Salt Lake during MLS soccer action between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders, at Rio Tinto Stadium, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. The stadium's naming rights are now up for grabs after the team's long relationship with the mining and real estate company. At least one suitor, and maybe more, are talking to RSL about becoming the staidum's new title sponsor.

“Visible SCM Stadium.”

Has a certain modern ring to it, but not an old, warm, sentimental one.

Old rings and warmth and sentimentality matter a whole lot less now than just how tall the stack of cash is that comes alongside for Real Salt Lake, or for any pro franchise in any pro sport in any pro league looking to put a name on its arena, field, center, park, court, stadium, home.

Yeah, you might have noticed, fans are being sold a corporate product or gaining product awareness before they ever enter a building for a ballgame and a beverage.

What happened to the buildings that had names of … you know, real human beings on them? People or groups of people who made a difference in their realms? Heroes? Veterans? Rich guys? Universities have held on, held out better, longer than the pros — Rice-Eccles Stadium, Jon. M. Huntsman Center, LaVell Edwards Stadium, and more — so, they exist here and there, but not as many heres and theres as once were.

Pity.

Those, after all, were the good old days, when people could earn or donate their way onto the side of a sports palace. Either of those is useful. Fans could feel connected to them.

Anybody feel connected to Guaranteed Rate Field?

I always wondered when LaVell got his name etched into football immortality at BYU whether the school should have added an apostrophe — LaVell Edwards’ Stadium — signifying authentic ownership of the structure. You build it with your excellence, you possess it.

Cool.

Although for what little Edwards was being paid compared to his coaching contemporaries, it could be said BYU owed him the entire worth of the stadium in back pay. It should have been his.

Either way, examples of that sort of honoring somehow mixed in a little something special about a place where folks scream and yell and root and pour their hearts out for their team.

Think about the Packers and where they play. All you have to say is “Lambeau” and that suffices, uttered with club and community reverence and pride. That’s far preferable to, say, “Shamrock Meats Field,” or “Lee’s Snap-On Nails Stadium.”

It means a little something.

I remember having a discussion — no, an argument — with Larry Miller, me telling the man who saved the Jazz from being shipped off to someone else’s town back in the 1980s, borrowing more money than he had at the time to keep the team here, that his name should be on what became the Delta Center and then EnergySoutions Arena and then Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Larry H. Miller Center.

Had a … nice, warm, sentimental ring to it.

Larry shrugged it off. He shouldn’t have.

Still, just because there’s a person’s name on a building doesn’t necessarily bring with it a sweet feeling. Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, named after August Busch by August Busch himself, reportedly originally wanted his ballpark to be called “Budweiser Stadium,” but Major League Baseball rejected the idea back then. Maybe August went ahead and named the place after him and his family and maybe he pulled a double-barreled number on account of another beer brand he owned and operated, name of Busch. Who knows?

I grew up going to Phillies games in Philadelphia at the old Connie Mack Stadium, a replacement for an earlier name, Shibe Park. It was a dangerous dump, but … who cared?

It could be, in some cases, that a human name is no better than a company name. Everyone’s selling something. But … it just feels a little better.

One of my favorite names was Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, a building named after … hooey, get this, a sports writer. Murphy had whipped up support for the multi-purpose structure that eventually housed the Padres and the Chargers and San Diego State. At first, it was known as San Diego Stadium, then the Murph, then Qualcomm, then San Diego County Credit Union.

As mentioned, the name game changes two, three, four, sometimes five times over, depending on from where the green flows. It’s hard to keep track.

Perhaps all of us should sell the naming rights to our own homes. Put a company name over our front doors. Or have a company logo painted from one end of your house to another in bold script. That’d be worth a bit of a reward wouldn’t it? You could pull into your driveway each evening and feel connected to General Motors or Burger King or Ted’s Bar and Grille. Maybe get a lifetime free pass or some other benefit every time you go in.

RSL’s stadium is now headed for a name change, with the club’s original deal with Rio Tinto now open to new bidders. Visible Supply Chain Management — whatever that is — is now reportedly negotiating with the team for the naming rights. Those talks are ongoing, but also might include other suitors who want in on the deal, the name game.

Wouldn’t it bring all the feels if it were to be called Kyle Beckerman Field or Nick Rimando Stadium? Those guys hauled an MLS championship here. Or how about naming the digs after Dave Checketts, the man who originated an MLS team here and fought with political leaders to get a stadium built? Without him, top-level American soccer would not exist in Utah.

Nah. Not enough money in any of those ideas to get them done. Just a nice ring to them, nice warmth, nice sentimentality. And on the pro level, those are ideas that have been eclipsed by corporate branding. They belong to a long-gone era.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.

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