Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Call It "The Puke"

Though it is not my favorite practice, I don't object per se to bidding wars for naming rights to public venues. If some organization wants to pay a fortune to ensure its name gets emblazoned on a basketball arena or concert hall, why should I quibble about "purity" or "integrity" or any of those things? What purity? It's been "Wrigley Field" for about a hundred years, right? However, there are limits to my tolerance and I don't think I'm the only one who believes recent comments by Forrest Lucas, he who shelled out $121 million to attach his company's moniker to the new football stadium in Indianapolis, were, shall we say, endowed with an unpleasant level of audacity.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Lucas dislikes the new nickname fans and broadcasters had assigned to the vast heap, saying, "Calling the stadium The Luke doesn’t sell a dime’s worth of products for us." Evidently, a Russian-owned competitor known as Lukoil is now doing business in the United States. Lucas, already frustrated with the similarity in company names, believes "the Luke" may direct consumers toward this upstart rather than his own venture.

One can understand Lucas' dismay with the competing organization, but any attempt to dictate to the public what they should or shouldn't call a stadium comes across as extremely proprietorial, not to mention petulant. Besides, US Cellular One Field--formerly Commiskey Park--in Chicago is often referred to colloquially as "the Cell", so could he not have foreseen that a similar idea might take hold at Lucas Oil Stadium?

"The Luke" is a pretty inane name for the building, but no worse than its official title. "Lucas Oil Stadium" is cumbersome and named for a fairly anonymous organization with no known connections to the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, or even the Midwest. The new behemoth was constructed largely by public money, but locals had no say in the naming of the building so therefore no incentive to display any loyalty to the created "brand", for lack of a better term.

Lucas can have his company's name on the stadium. Fine, that's the free market, baby. And for his money, he may ask the Indianapolis Colts' organization not to encourage usage of what he considers a counterproductive handle for the place. But that's all. Neither fans nor radio and television broadcasters--unless they are employed directly by the Colts--have any responsibility to move so much as a "dime's worth of products" for this man, whose comments make him sound like little more than a dictatorial ingrate. And since "the Luke" is pretty lame, I suggest we start calling it "the Puke." Thank you.


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