White Sox stadium actually getting even worse name than “U.S. Cellular Field”

Aw, jeez:

U.S. Cellular Field will change its name to Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox announced Wednesday afternoon.

The White Sox and Guaranteed Rate, a national mortgage lender, have signed 13-year naming rights deal, according to the Sox. But the name could last even longer — the Sox have an option of extending the deal past 2030.

There is nothing to say about this other than to make jokes. And the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal has already won that contest:

More seriously: You know, there’s nothing requiring any of us normal people (or even us abnormal people who are journalists) from using the corporate-assigned name for a stadium — we can still call it U.S. Cellular Field, or New Comiskey Park, or my preference, “the White Sox’ stadium” all we want. Which is no doubt why resold naming rights go for discount rates: Business owners know that there are plenty of other options for what to call the place, so they’re willing to pay less to slap their name on it. Which is also why you see so many smaller companies putting their name on used stadiums — American Airlines doesn’t need that kind of attention, but Monster Cables, sure.

Speaking of which, the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate didn’t reveal how much the new naming rights deal was for. I’m going with “not nearly enough to be worth the ridicule.”


21 comments on “White Sox stadium actually getting even worse name than “U.S. Cellular Field”

  1. My son thinks it should be called “The Pit” as it is the pit of all evil (he is a northsider born, what can one say).

    When the Sox signed the original deal with US Cellular, one of the other mobile phone companies (I forget who) produced signs that said “Do you still call it Comiskey? We do too”.

  2. Local sports guy in Chicago says his “sources” indicate the naming rights went for upwards of $100M…
    Again, I just don’t get the ROI for a company on paying naming rights for a stadium. OK, so the sportscasters doing a game mention it, and the Goodyear blimp, or whatever corporate blimp is buzzing around the stadium for aerial shots might show the name emblazoned on it, but short of that, what’s the point? Is mention of the name supposed to impress upon the viewer/consumer a desire to buy that company’s product? i.e. – “As a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, who play at the ‘United Center,’ when I have to fly, my first preference is to fly the skies with United…because they are tangentially affiliated with the Blackhawks!”
    Yeah…I don’t see that happening with ANYONE. I just don’t get naming rights investments.

    • I think it depends on the sport. A few years ago (maybe a decade ago, I am getting old) I saw on a board that soccer fans and NASCAR fans have been shown to be very loyal to the products that sponsor their favorite riders / teams. For soccer though the real benefit is the shirt sponsor. Those go for quite a bit of money as kids around the world wear a corporate name on their favorite team’s short (my older son is a Chelsea fanatic from the time we lived in London — if it were up to him he would wear nothing but his Chelsea shirts, giving Samsung and now Yokahama Tires lots of billboard advertising)

      • There are big money deals for soccer shirt sponsors (Chelsea is a good example) but even in the Premier League there are teams barely get 1.5 million a year. There are not many big money deals in the whole world and everything else barely would cover the unmonetized annoyance of its fans. I guess MLS can get around $2 million a year so it is something.

    • I think name recognition subconsciously reassures people, especially for business purchasing. You book you boss on DiscountFly airline and its late, it’s your fault, if it’s on United Airlines, it’s United Airlines fault. I don’t know why established names (like U.A.) do it, but then again they have more money. No doubt, though, a big driver is the corporate boxes that come with naming rights that the top execs can use, which is probably bad use of stock holders investments.

      BTW, I can’t keep up either. I just go with “the NFL stadium in Denver” or the “baseball stadium in …”.

    • I think there is some relationship between a fan of a given team and one of their team’s sponsors, but it likely doesn’t extend beyond “I love the Cubs and SW Airlines /Empire carpets (come on, sing it with me… 5-8-8 two-three hundred, Empirrrrree….) sponsors the broadcasts so when I need flights/new carpets I will check them out first”.

      If it is a 13 year deal worth $100m it’s not so bad for the purchaser when you do the math.

      100/13= $7.7m p/a.
      7.7/145 games broadcast on WGN/Comcast annually means the naming rights cost $53k per game.

      Compare that to the marginal cost of advertising a product multiple times during a White Sox game… I don’t know what that is, but I would imagine you wouldn’t get all that many spots in 3 hours for $53k.
      And you certainly wouldn’t get the aerial shots, stadium facade and other associated/on line advertising that goes with naming rights, much less any good will that comes with a ‘formal’ partnership (ok, just remembered, we are talking white sox so good will might be a bit of a stretch…).

      In the long run, it might well be a better deal for the ridiculously named mortgage company than airing 6 commercials per game for 13 years.

      • For the term of the agreement you’ve now also got the biggest billboard on that stretch of 90/94 by a considerable margin (the backside of the scoreboard). Couple that with the 157 White Sox season ticket holders who are going to see it 81 times a year and it mightn’t be the worst deal. If nothing else 99.5% of Chicagoans had probably never heard of that company before yesterday. It’s already down to 97% give or take.

      • 5-8-8-two-three-hundred is the product of a generation of advertisement drilled into the head of every Chicagoan from birth. That and “Celozzi-Ettleson Chevrolet where you always save more money” and Weil Cadillac in Libertyville “it’s a beautiful place in the country.” Plus, every time in this presidential election that Mike Pence says “Indiana” I think “There’s more than corn in Indiana. There’s Indiana Beach.”

        A stadium naming rights deal is a poor substitute for reconfiguring the minds of a whole metropolitan area. I mean I haven’t lived in Chicago for a long time and I’ve never owned a Chevy but I know where I’d always save more money.

        • Well as a native Chicagoan I can tell you the examples you mentioned (plus others like Hudson 3 2 7 hundred etc) do stick in the mind better than this whole name-sponsor of the week bit. (Quick, what’s the current name of the Philadelphia Flyers arena? No Google please. I’ll wait.) It might work short term, but who’ll care by the time the deal expires?

          • I think that’s really the point Marty. If it’s a long enough term you get name association. Most short term naming rights deals don’t quite get there, but some “work”.

            Just like advertising jingles… they generally don’t work unless they are drilled into our heads over a period of years. Stimulus/Response.

    • I don’t get it either, but man, “U.S. Cellular Field” is shoved down our throats multiple times a game. It’s also on the radio, TV spots, newspaper, online info & ticket sites, blogs, tweets, social media, news articles & picture captions, etc. I don’t know how much advertising costs, but it’s $7.7 million a year, $641K a month or $1.28M a MLB month. I never heard of GR before this, and who knows how much business they’ll get because of this new awareness. I still call it New Comiskey.

      • Most of us will. But just like US Cellular or Pac Bell or what have you sticks in some brains, perhaps GR will too (though I have my doubts…)

  3. It would be interesting to do a brand recall study here in the bay area.

    I still say “Pac Bell Park” when referring to AT&T Park. SBC Park never stuck.

    Oracle Area is ingrained in my head. Not sure why. The albatross on the other side of the parking lot is the [Oakland] Coliseum (never o.co or Monster whatever).

    Here in San Jose, The Shark Tank has been the HP Pavilion and now the SAP Center. When it changed to HP Pavilion, SAP Center never stuck. For the most part, I (and many folks I know) refer to it as the The Shark Tank. Even when One Direction or the circus graces us with their presence.

    • I think Oracle stuck due to it being a bit mystic or being related to the DC Comics character.

      And here in Sacramento it has always been Arco Arena or The Arena.

  4. No one ever called it “US Cellular Field” but “Comiskey Park” didn’t really work either as it wasn’t the real one.

    Eventually a lot of people called it “the cell” which probably wasn’t what US Cellular was hoping for but seemed appropriate for the charmless concrete monstrosity.

  5. You know what you should do is buy the naming rights to one of these stadiums and name it FieldOfSchemes.com Stadium. That would be great lol

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