Guaranteed Rate Field will be the new name for the White Sox home stadium starting in 2017. My first impression was this had to be, hands-down, the worst stadium name in the majors. Good thing there's some objective data that I can consider alongside my gut feeling to help figure it out.
Here are the points considered in building each stadium's name score:
1. Lifespan and loyalty
My scoring favors stadium names that have been around a long time since that lifespan is an important factor for me. Stadiums that have had a name change are penalized for that lack of consistency and loyalty while stadium names that have carried the same name for multiple stadiums get a large bonus.
- How long each stadium has had it's name.
- If the current stadium (the actual edifice) has had more than one name.
- If the current stadium shares a name with previous stadiums.
2. Name origins that aren't sponsorships
Purists might argue that any stadium using corporate naming rights automatically should be penalized, and I tend to buy into that viewpoint. However, the different origins of non-corporate naming hold different weight for me. In this exercise a stadium named after a person scores higher than a stadium named after its location. A stadium named after the team that plays there scores the lowest.
- Is the stadium named after a person, its location, or the team that plays there?
- Some stadiums have a combination of these.
3. Name origins that are sponsorships
Here's the meat of the argument since the majority of stadiums are named using corporate naming rights. First off, it must be said that most of these names aren't all that bad. Certain company names are ambiguous enough to not immediately be recognized as a corporate entity, and others unobtrusively meld with their Ballpark/Stadium/Field suffix. Others, however, are very well known entities that one could argue don't need to spend money on stadium naming to increase their visibility.
In order to come up with a weighting system, I used a criteria of locality. Most naming rights come from companies headquartered in the stadium's city. If that's the case, no points are deducted. Consider that a loyalty bonus. If the company is not currently headquartered in the city, but was founded there, there's a small penalty. If the company was not founded there, nor is it headquartered there, a second penalty is assessed. A third penalty is assessed if the company has no discernible ties to the area. Insurance companies and banks especially have large family trees wherein a previously absorbed company had strong roots in the area.
Higher scores are then given to companies that have longevity as their brands tend to be stronger and more well-known. Higher scores are also given to companies that have less brand recognition. This number is a subjective measure on my part as many of these companies are regional. Other scores may put different values on recognition.
- Is the company with the naming rights headquartered in the area?
- If the company isn't headquartered in the area, was it founded in the area?
- If the company was neither headquartered or founded in the area, does the company have other traceable roots to the area?
- How long has the company been in existence?
- What is the company's level of brand recognition?
Even if you have a terrible sponsored name, you can salvage some points by having a memorable or catchy nickname. However, nicknames are only considered if they tie directly to the name of the stadium. For example, the former Bank One Ballpark, was nicknamed the BOB. However, the Diamondbacks stadium is also known as The Snake Pit, which has nothing to do with the name Chase Field.
5. Previous name
How does the latest stadium name compare to the former name of the team's home field? If the same is better, positive points are rewarded. Worse names are penalized, while quite a few have were viewed as neither better or worse.
6. Personal score
The most subjective rank of them all is the 0-10 score I chose to give each name. There are some names I just really like in spite of flaws and others that just don't work.
The Final Verdict
Congratulations, Guaranteed Rates Field! You aren't the worst name! By virtue of being headquartered in Chicago, they managed to score better than AT&T Park (AT&T only has roots in the Bay Area) and Citizens Bank Ballpark (which has no ties to Philadelphia that I could find). The name still irks me, but quite honestly, I think AT&T bothers me more.
As you might expect, the "classic" names won out, mostly by virtue of being old, but that's OK by me. Unsurprising, the stadiums named after beer companies scored high as they have local ties and corporate longevity and decent ballpark naming synergy (plus Busch stadium gets a benefit of having partial scoring on the "named for a person" category). Parks named after teams were ho-hum, and my personal favorite, Great American Ball Park, still placed in the top ten.
|Stadium Name||Final Score||Stadium Opened||First Year with Current Name||Named Years||Stadium Name Change?||Named After||Sponsorship Presence||Company Founded||Recognition Index||Nickname||Nickname Index||Last stadium name||Former name index||Personal score|
|Angel Stadium of Anaheim||131.6||1964||2004||13||Yes||Team/Location||The Big A||2||Edison International Field of Anaheim||1||5|
|AT&T Park||80.7||2000||2006||11||Yes||Sponsor||Has roots||1910||5||SBC Park||0||1|
|Busch Stadium||233.45||2006||1953||64||No||Sponsor/Person||Headquartered||1852||5||Sportsman's Park||0||9|
|Chase Field||95.7||1998||2006||11||Yes||Sponsor||Has roots||1900||4||Bank One Ballpark||0||6|
|Citi Field||143.5||2009||2009||8||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1812||4||Shea Stadium||0||5|
|Citizens Bank Ballpark||87.9||2004||2004||13||No||Sponsor||None||1828||5||The Bank||1||Veterans Stadium||-1||3|
|Comerica Park||144.3||2000||2000||17||No||Sponsor||Formerly Hqed||1849||2||Tiger Stadium||0||7|
|Coors Field||161.4||1995||1995||22||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1873||5||Mile High Stadium||0||8|
|Dodger Stadium||196.5||1962||1962||55||No||Team||Chavez Ravine*||10||Ebbets Field||1||6|
|Fenway Park||253.5||1912||1912||105||No||Location/Sponsor||Founded||1912||0||Huntington Avenue Grounds||0||7|
|Globe Life Park in Arlington||96.9||1994||2014||3||Yes||Sponsor||Parent Hqed||1951||2||The Globe||2||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||0||2|
|Great American Ball Park||153.3||2003||2003||14||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1974||0||Cinergy Field||1||10|
|Guaranteed Rate Field||91.7||1991||2017||0||Yes||Sponsor||Headquartered||2000||2||US Cellular Field||-1||1|
|Kauffman Stadium||142.3||1973||1994||23||Yes||Person||The K||3||Royals Stadium||0||6|
|Marlins Park||118.5||2012||2012||5||No||Team||Sun Life Stadium||0||2|
|Miller Park||163.2||2001||2001||16||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1855||5||The Keg||6||County Stadium||0||8|
|Minute Maid Park||151.2||2000||2003||14||Yes||Sponsor||Headquartered||1945||5||The Juice Box||8||Astros Field /Enron Field||2||7|
|Nationals Park||124.9||2008||2008||9||No||Team||Olympic Stadium (Montreal)||0||4|
|Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||97.7||1966||2016||1||Yes||Location||o.co Coliseum||-1||1|
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards||162||1992||1992||25||No||Team/Location||The Yard||4||Memorial Stadium||0||8|
|Petco Park||139.2||2004||2004||13||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1965||5||Qualcomm Stadium||1||5|
|PNC Park||143.5||2001||2001||16||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1852||5||Three Rivers Stadium||-1||5|
|Progressive Field||111||1994||2009||8||Yes||Sponsor||Headquartered||1937||5||Jacobs Fields||-1||3|
|SunTrust Park||110.2||2017||2017||0||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1985||3||Turner Field||0||2|
|Target Field||142.5||2010||2010||7||No||Sponsor||Headquartered||1902||5||Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome||1||6|
|Tropicana Field||107||1990||1997||20||Yes||Sponsor||Founded||1947||5||The Trop||4||Thunderdome||-1||5|
|Turner Field||133||1997||1997||20||No||Person||The Ted||-1||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||0||2|
|US Cellular Field||112.4||1991||2003||14||Yes||Sponsor||Headquartered||1983||5||The Cell||3||Comiskey Park||-1||2|
|Wrigley Field||222||1914||1927||90||Yes||Person||Cubs Park||0||9|
|Yankee Stadium||246.4||2009||1923||94||No||Team||Polo Grounds||0||5|
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