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Money talks when naming ballparks

Hartford Courant

There was a time when you couldn’t tell the players without a scorecard. Then, in 1960, White Sox owner Bill Veeck put names over the numbers on the backs of uniforms. The White Sox had their names on road uniforms only, which ticked off other owners, whose teams were trying to sell scorecards.

By the end of the 1960s nearly every other team had followed suit.

These days, a scorecard is needed to identify the names of ballparks. The latest to change the signs out front is the The Ballpark in Arlington, which will now be known as Ameriquest Field. Oh, sure, that conveys Texas all right. About the only thing Texan about it is the $75 million the Rangers will collect over the next 30 years from the mortgage company in naming rights fees.

It marked the eighth time in the past 11 years that a ballpark has changed names, and in only one of those cases did it not involve a corporate sponsor paying for the privilege.

In July 1993, Royals Stadium in Kansas City was renamed Kauffman Stadium in honor of Ewing Kauffman, the franchise founder who died the next month.

Anaheim’s park, which had been called Edison International Field in recent years in a deal with the power company, is now known as Angel Stadium, but that will change once another corporate sponsor emerges.

In Chicago, the White Sox’s home was so well known as Comiskey Park that when they opened a new stadium on the South Side in 1991 they retained the name. That was until last year, when it took on the tongue-twisting name of U.S. Cellular Field, which has led to a decidedly unattractive nickname, “The Cell.”

A few years ago, when George Steinbrenner signed a $95 million deal with adidas, there was never any thought of renaming Yankee Stadium. The Boss just did the next best thing and plastered adidas ads all over the House That Ruth Built.

The Rangers’ Texas neighbors in Houston, the Astros, discovered the downside of such deals when they were forced to change the name of Enron Field after the company scandalously went belly up. It is now called Minute Maid Park. Again, that’s real Texas.

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