Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Posted: 9:22 a.m.
By Joe Collins
The Kansas Jayhawks beat the Illini Sunday night in Tulsa.
Think fast: what was the name of the arena where they played? Turner Turnpike Arena? No. The Garth Brooks Center? Mmm.no. What about the Koyie Hill Auditorium?? HeyKoyie was born in Tulsa, you know.
How about this: BOK Center.
Im not even sure how you pronounce that: BOK. Is it like the classical composer? Ordo you say it in acronym formlike B-O-K? Turns out it could be a little of both. BOK Center is short for Bank Of Oklahoma Center. Gotta love those bank-sponsored arenas, you know? Not sure why, but I just had a flashback to the bank robbery scene in Raising Arizona. There were also second and third round NCAA games played at Quicken Loans Arena, Time Warner Cable Arena, the McKale Center, Verizon Center and Pepsi Center. If you can name two or more of those arenas by city without cheating on Google or Wikipedia, consider yourself a sports corporate savant.
Does the name of a sports arena really matter anymore? To the upper management of both the corporation and team the venue housesabsolutely. Stadium naming rights can be absolutely vital to the bottom line of a team. Money fuels the sports machine. It has for quite some time now. But do the names matter to the average fan? I doubt it. Sports junkies have been numbed by corporate-named stadiums over the last decade or so that we really dont know where teams play, aside from the city they play in. Did you know that the Sacramento Kings play at Power Balance Pavilion? Or that the Golden State Warriors play at Oracle Arena? Utahs Delta Center might have caused goose bumps for Jazz opponents a while back. Now that place is called EnergySolutions Arena. Doesnt have quite the scare-factor does it? Maybe youd shudder a little upon knowing that EnergySolutions is one of the largest nuclear waste companies in the world.
Heres more: name the following hockey teams that occupy the following arenasThe Prudential Center, Consol Energy Center, HSBC Arena, BankAtlantic Center and the RBC Center. Any idea? Heckany clue on what city those buildings are located? If you guessed the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, you might as well write your ticket to Jeopardy! Almost makes you feel nostalgic for places like Joe Louis Arena. Then again
Its kind of sad that we lost that goose bump factor with sports arenas. I can remember fearingfearingthe Bulls going into Boston to play the Celtics in the 80s. Of coursehaving your favorite team go up against Bird, McHale and Parish in their prime was frightening enough. But with the game being played at the Boston Garden, it added an intimidation factor like no other. The current TD Garden just kind of blends in. If the Boston Garden was Aerosmith in their prime, the TD Garden is Dave Matthews. In muzak form.
I saved the best for last: Jobing.com arena in Phoenix. Can you imagine saying that to your friends?
Hey, do you want to come with us to Jobing.com Arena tonight to watch the Coyotes play?
Of course not. We know better. It just sounds awkward and weird. We say instead, Hey, do you want to go to the Coyotes game tonight?
But hey, life goes on. The Orange Bowl is out. Sun Life Pro Player Park Land Shark Field Stadium (or whtever its called) is in. Its reality. Not much we can do about it, aside from going to games at places like Jobing.com Arena. The names, and dollars, benefit the teams in the long run.
We can only hope for more games at places like Soldier Field.
Hopefully this fall.
Or something like that.