Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
I can recall the exact moment that I realized that absolutely everything in sports is for sale. I was at a Jets game with my dad and shockingly, the Jets were actually driving towards the end zone. This didn’t happen very often in my youth, which might explain why the memory is so vivid.
The Jets completed a big play and were down at the other teams’ 15-or-so yard line. That’s when the public address announcer interjected. He said, “Fans, the Jets have just entered into the Heinz Ketchup Red Zone!”
That’s right, Heinz had bought the naming rights to a football term that has no official meaning. They bought a phrase that has no tangible qualities and isn’t even demarcated on the actual field of play.
But while Heinz might have been one of the first to do such a thing, they certainly weren’t the last.
Stadium names, bowl games and NASCAR races – sponsors will buy it all just to get your attention. Here are some of the most head-scratching, amusing and just awful examples in the world of sports today.
1. College Bowls
The NCAA expanded the number of bowls from 39 to 42 a few years ago, which of course meant MORE SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES! And of course, a better chance that your sub-mediocre team gets selected to play in the inaugural “Tough Actin’ Tinactin Foot Fungus Bowl,” Presented by Reebok, Foot Locker and Under Armour. (Note: That is not a real bowl… Yet).
Here were some of the most interesting bowl names from the last few years.
TaxSlayer Bowl – Quite possibly the bowl name that does the least to inspire either team to win.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl – By the time you finish saying the name of the bowl the entire game is over.
Duck Commander Independence Bowl – The most American bowl name of them all. ‘Merica.
The reason why arena/stadium sponsor names are ranked this high is because they’re relatively permanent. You’re literally putting a huge sign up on the side of your building – the place you call home – for years to come. Choose your sponsor poorly and this is the result.
The KFC Yum! Center – Yum! Brands owns KFC, a potentially little known fact that makes this slightly more tolerable. But why put the Yum! part in there? KFC is just fine as a standalone brand, we don’t need the Yum! part in there so layman’s like myself can take it to mean that they have to tell me that KFC is yummy. I know it’s yummy. I’ve been there. Their biscuits are life-changing. Cut the Yum! End of rant.
Jobing.com Arena – There are plenty of .com arena’s these days, but Jobing.com arena felt like the first one, so they go here for starting the awful trend of (insert name here).com arena. It just doesn’t flow.
Sleep Train Arena –
“Hey Bob, want to come see Springsteen this weekend?”
“Sure, love “The Boss,” where’s he playing?
“Sleep Train Arena.”
“Eh, sounds boring. I’ll pass.”
GEO Group Stadium – The name itself might not seem too bad on the surface, but GEO Group “is the world’s leading provider of correctional, detention, and community reentry services.” Who exactly are they advertising to at these games anyway?
3. NASCAR Races
Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 – Nothing against the product, but I really can’t take a race seriously with this name.
Crown Royal Presents The “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 At The Brickyard – I’d use the same joke as the San Diego Country Credit Union Bowl here, but we all know that’s just not true in NASCAR. The race would probably be in lap 173 of 543 by the time you finished with the title.
SpongeBob SquarePants 400 – Who lives in a trailer by Kansas Speedway? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!
4. Soccer Jersey Sponsorships
Personal opinion: This is the future of all professional sports. There’s too much money left on the table by almost all professional sports leagues not to take on advertisers for the fronts of team jerseys. Still, I hope they are a little bit more selective than some of the European clubs have been in the past.
Atletico Madrid And Columbia Pictures – Just look at what the players were forced to wear below. They had to advertise the awful Halle Berry Gothika movie on their uniforms. And there’s way more. There were Hellboy jerseys (a better film at least), Spiderman jerseys and Peter Pan ones too. This is NOT a world I want to live in.
Scarborough And Black Death Vodka – Nothing says ‘let’s play a fun game of soccer (football, relax)’ like Black Death Vodka – a product that at best makes you think of drunken idiots and at worst reminds you that half the world died in the 13th Century from a disease of the same name. Fun stuff.
AC Milan And Pooh Jeans – Not exactly intimidating when a grown man comes running towards you with the word “Pooh” tattooed across his chest. Just hilarious.
5. Werner – The Official Ladder Of The NCAA
The unique partnership between a ladder company and the NCAA Tournament gets its own category of ridiculousness. Have you ever been sitting on your couch at home, just wondering how you were going to cut the net off of your basketball hoop? Well, Werner Ladders has you covered. Whether you’re cutting down nets or cleaning leaves out of your gutter, Werner is the ladder for you.