A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Arena naming rights in the NHL

About a week ago, I warned that I was going to write a very boring and pointless post about the naming rights on the arenas in the NHL. Here it is.

It all got started a few weeks ago. In a span of one minute, I saw a TV ad for Scottrade, then heard a radio ad for Nationwide insurance. Those are two companies with naming rights to NHL arenas, and it got my brain churning. Truth be told, I was already sort of thinking about this anyway, but it got the ball rolling.

There's something funny about that Nationwide ad, though. Next time you hear one of their ads on the radio, pay attention to the disclaimer at the end. Part of the disclaimer is "Coverage not available in all states". Nationwide insurance, then, is not available nationwide. Go figure.

Some of the arena names raise a few eyebrows and a few snickers, but I promise you that some of those names aren't as funny as they seem at first. Most have very strong ties to their local communities, even if the name suggests otherwise.

  • ANAHEIM--Honda Center. The Japanese automaker has US headquarters in Torrance, CA.
  • ATLANTA--Philips Arena. The Dutch electronics manufacturer has a distribution center in Atlanta.
  • BOSTON--TD Banknorth Garden. The Canadian bank Toronto-Dominion does business in the northeastern US as TD Banknorth. The US company has its headquarters in Portland, Maine. This name has little to do with Boston.
  • BUFFALO-- HSBC Center. The Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation is globally headquartered in London, but does its US business out of Buffalo.
  • CALGARY--Pengrowth Saddledome. Pengrowth is a huge oil and natural gas company based in Calgary.
  • CAROLINA-- RBC Center. The Canadian banking giant has its US headquarters (known here as RBC/Centura) in Raleigh.
  • CHICAGO-- United Center. The airline has its world headquarters in Chicago.
  • COLORADO-- Pepsi Center. The soft drink company founded in North Carolina has a regional office in Greenwood Villiage, CO, just a few miles from Denver.
  • COLUMBUS-- Nationwide Arena. The insurance company which does not offer plans nationwide, is headquartered in Columbus.
  • DALLAS-- American Airlines Center. The airline is headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth.
  • DETROIT-- Joe Louis Arena. One of the few remaining sports & entertainment complexes that is free of corporate tags. The legendary boxer for whom the arena is named was from Detroit.
  • EDMONTON-- Rexall Place. The pratcically defunct US-based pharmaceutical company is operated in Canada by the Katz Group. This group is based in Edmonton, and they just arranged the purchase of the Oilers.
  • FLORIDA-- Bank Atlantic Center. This bank is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • LOS ANGELES-- Staples Center. The office supply chain is headquartered in Framingham, MA. They have 20 Staples stores in the Los Angeles area. Unless I'm missing something, that's as deep as the connection gets.
  • MINNESOTA-- Xcel Energy Center. Xcel, the energy company which serves eight US states is based in Minneapolis.
  • MONTREAL-- Bell Centre. The Canadian telecommunications company Bell Canada is based in Montréal.
  • NASHVILLE-- Sommet Center. The arena is named for a group of companies called the Sommet Group. The group is based in Franklin, TN, just outside of Nashville.
  • NEW JERSEY-- Prudential Center. The financial services company is located in Newark, NJ.
  • NEW YORK ISLANDERS-- Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The building is in Nassau County, NY, and is publicly owned.
  • NEW YORK RANGERS-- Madison Square Garden. The original Madison Square Garden sat at the north end of Madison Square Park on the corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue. The current MSG is on 7th Avenue, is no longer adjacent to Madison Square Park, but the name remains. Plans are in the works to build another new arena, the fifth. This is one of the few buildings without a corporate name.
  • OTTAWA-- Scotiabank Place. After the Ottawa-based software company Corel failed to renew their sponsorship, the Torontop-based Scotiabank bought the naming rights. This is one of a few that seems backwards or wrong in some way.
  • PHILADELPHIA-- Wachovia Center. This is one of the few that is a victim of corporate buyouts. Between 1996 and 1998, the building was named for CoreStates Bank, which was a Philadelphia-based regional bank. The bank was purchased and it merged with FirstUnion, a Charlotte based bank. After that, First Union was bought up by Wachovia, which is also based in Charlotte. Although it seems goofy, there are still ties to Philadelphia. You just have to look hard to see them.
  • PHOENIX-- Jobing.com Arena. Named for an employment website based in Phoenix.
  • PITTSBURGH-- Mellon Arena. Mellon was a money management firm based in Pittsburgh. It has been bought and merged with the Bank of New York. No word on if it will be renamed.
  • SAN JOSE-- HP Pavilion. The computer hardware giant is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.
  • ST. LOUIS-- Scottrade Center. The on-line discount brokerage firm is based in St. Louis.
  • TAMPA--St. Pete Times Forum. Named for the newspaper.
  • TORONTO-- Air Canada Centre. The Canadian Airline is based in Montréal, but Toronto is its largest hub.
  • VANCOUVER-- General Motors Place. The US-based automaker has its Canadian headquarters clear accross the country in Ontario. As far as I can tell, there aren't any GM manufacturing plants in Vancouver or anywhere else in BC
  • WASHINGTON-- Verizon Center. When Verizon purchased Ashton, VA based MCI Telecom in 2006, they also took over the naming rights for the MCI Center.

    At the end of the day, the only ones that don't make any sense at all are the Staples Center and General Motors Place. Most of the others have a very strong connection between the name of the arena and some company with major business in the area.

    Carolina will have another day off on Thursday, and unless there's a major trade, I don't anticipate writing anything that has anything to do with actual hockey.

    Bill Purdy said...

    Saying Pepsi has a regional office in GV, while true, is no more relevant to naming the Pepsi Center after "Pepsi" than it would be to say it's named that way because there are forty Pepsi machines installed at Six Flags Elitch Gardens, which is right next door.

    Pepsi has virtually zero historical ties to the Rocky Mountain region, unless you consider its (tenuous) regional dominance over Coke as the most popular soft drink brand. They bought up the naming rights to the arena to bolster their presence in the Rocky Mountain market, and for no other reason than that.

    At least Pepsi was able to secure a distribution deal for their products within the Pepsi Center. For several years (not sure if it's still true), the concessions operations at nearby Coors Field sold Budweiser exclusively.

    d-lee said...

    I had to dig really deep to find that information about Pepsi. I knew full well that the connection was about as loose as ... um ... something that's really loose.

    I can't remember details, but I have some vague recollection of a sports stadium somewhere with a telecommunications company owning the naming rights, but a rival company having the "official wireless provider" contract for the team. Does this ring a bell?

    Jes GÅ‘lbez said...

    Cool stuff.

    GM Place - Well, companies don't need a regional presence to get some advertising slapped onto an arena. Air Canada, GM, etc ... just took a good place and ran with it.

    I still miss the good old days of the non-corporate names. The Palladium, etc... still, many of us refuse to use the corporate name in many instances (The Shark Tank, The Pond, The Saddledome)

    Lloyd said...

    The TD Banknorth "connection" to Boston comes courtesy of mergers & acquisitions. Originally, the naming rights went to a Boston bank, the Shawmut Bank, and the arena was to be known as the Shawmut Center. Then Fleet Bank out of Providence merged with Shawmut, and it was the FleetCenter. Then TD Banknorth took over Fleet, and inherited the naming rights to the rink.

    Lloyd said...

    The HSBC Arena in Buffalo was originally the Marine Midland Arena (called, by some, the Marina). After a few years, HSBC (the Hong Kong and Singapore Bank Corp.), which had owned the Buffalo-based Marine Midland Bank since the 1980s, opted to rebrand the US operation under the HSBC name. The arena name changed as well, although I recall it being a move that met with local resistance.

    Alien said...

    Hockey team ownership tells you what they want you to hear. These "naming rights" are all a ruse to cover up the real meaning behind the arena name. This is a list of what some of the real names mean. Anaheim - Honda Center. During their early years it was a young player by the name of Paul Kariye (Japanese born) that helped get them to where they are now. Can't retire his jersey since he hasn't retired and is still playing in the NHL, so what better way to say thank you. Buffalo - HSBC Center. Hull's Skate Breached Crease. Carolina -RBC Center. Reference to fans not caring about hockey. Racing's Better Chum. Chicago - United Center. United we stand, united we stay away in droves when the team sucks. Detroit - Joe Louis Arena. Joe Louis arena was named after the Joe Louis snack cakes (a chocolate cake with vanilla frosted icing in the center). Edmonton - Rexall Place. This is fitting, the team hasn't been the same since the Gretzky - Messier era. In order to get fans through the game, they receive a free bottle of aspirin at every home game. Nashville - Sommet Center. They figure if they want to reach the top of the league, why not name the arena to try and inspire their players, except they spelled it wrong. Ottawa - Scotiabank Place. How else do you sign Spetza, Heatley and Alfredsson to long term contracts without the backing of a major financial institution? Phoenix - Jobing.com Arena. I think Phoenix was smart naming their arena for an employment website. Fire a coach and he has a website to look for another job, looking for a coach.........check the website. Pittsburgh - Mellon Arena. Post Lemieux, pre Crosby they played like a bunch of boobs. Speaking of boobs. San Jose - HP Pavillion. In "silicone" valley the HP stands for Hot Putang. Toronto - Air Canada Centre. Toronto went with Air Canada Center because the deal gives any pro athlete booed out of the city half price airfare. Vancouver - General Motors Place. Seems odd for a city with a population that is dominately Chinese and East Indian to adopt the name of a U.S. based automaker. The only ones that don't make any sense are the Honda Center in Anaheim and GM Place in Vancouver. You should be able to trade arena sponsors and these two would make the most sense.

    remarkjd said...

    HP must have paid a lot for naming rights to "HP Pavilion," but in every article I read about Sharks home games, it's always "The Shark Tank." So HP doesn't seem to be getting its money's worth.

    In contrast, Verizon Center is called "the Phone Booth" GM Place is called "The Garage," and Prudential Center is called "The Rock," etc. so the branding is working there.

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