Guaranteed Rate Field? You’re kidding, right?
Was Year End Clearance Stadium already taken?
Going Out of Business Sale Park?
Your Name Here Yards?
But Wait! There’s More! Coliseum?
The White Sox announced Wednesday that U.S. Cellular Field will become Guaranteed Rate Field after the season, Guaranteed Rate being a company that makes … hold on … checking … oh, I see now that it’s a mortgage company.
There are brutal ballpark names, there are ballpark names that inspire feelings of despair and hopelessness, and then there is Guaranteed Rate Field. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Guaranteed Rate Field makes me want to lock in on a date to end it all.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the name change is about money and that the team is looking forward to working together with its new corporate partner. This surely isn’t what the Sox had in mind, but there might not be a name that better captures the sheer blahness of this franchise. Guaranteed Rate Field. Perfect.
When the White Sox announced in 2003 that Comiskey Park would be called U.S. Cellular Field, I vowed to continue to call it by its given name. The Sox might cave in to corporate naming rights, greed and the $68 million that went with it, I wrote, but it didn’t mean the rest of us had to. History mattered.
But as you can see, that vow lost out to popular usage. Everybody started calling the park The Cell. It fit. And my resistance gave way to reality. This is business. This is how it works. Hallowed Wrigley Field can have a clown show and a water slide, for all I care about tradition anymore.
Did U.S. Cellular get a bang for its buck when people referred to the park as The Cell? Apparently not, judging by the name change. Maybe there are fans who think of the wireless phone company when they hear “The Cell,’’ but many others probably just think of a cell, lower-case c, in all its varied meanings.
The only question now is what the ballpark will be called in everyday conversation. If there’s anything we can all agree on – “all’’ meaning everyone not associated with the mortgage company – it’s that the ballpark will not be called Guaranteed Rate Field.
Guaranteed Loss Field?
Guaranteed Wait Bathroom Lines?
You reap what you sow, and in this case what the Sox have sown is a stadium name that doesn’t roll off the tongue or lend itself to an easier nickname. You, dear reader, might have something more to say about that.
How much money Guaranteed Rate is doling out for the 13-year naming rights hasn’t been announced, but the company already has some big-ticket items on its expenses list. Earlier this year, a jury awarded another mortgage company more than $25 million in a lawsuit that alleged a former employee and Guaranteed Rate had engaged in “corporate espionage.’’ Guaranteed Rate’s portion will be $22.7 million.
How about Guaranteed Rate Hike Field?
The Sox don’t care what the park is called. If they did, you wouldn’t be struggling to say this clunkiest of clunky names. So they’ll talk about all the things they can do with the money. They’ll talk about making improvements to the ballpark. They’ll talk about improving the on-field product. But a lack of cash isn’t what ails this team. It’s a lack of people knowing what they’re doing. From top to bottom, the Sox are like stagnant water.
“We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans,” Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said.
Maybe I’m being too hard on Guaranteed Rate. It’s not the company’s fault that it’s named something so generic. Oh, wait. Yes, it is. Anyway, the bigger question is why Guaranteed Rate would want to attach itself to a franchise that stands for sustained mediocrity.
Lots of ballparks have very unromantic names. Progressive Field. Target Field. PNC Park. Even Wrigley Field was named after a chewing gum company. They’re not there for poetry. They’re there for commerce. I’m guessing similar outcries went up when those stadiums were named. Too corporate. Too antiseptic. But eventually, the names became part of the everyday conversation.
But Guaranteed Rate Field? Who’s going to say, “Hey, anybody want to head to Guaranteed Rate Field for the game tonight?’’ Nobody.