Corporate Domination of Public Stadium Challenged
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
One Newspaper Stands Up
Nader Praises “Civic Courage” of Denver Post for Ignoring Corporate Hustle
The Denver Post has decided to call Denver’s new corporate welfare stadium by its accepted nickname and not a corporate name. Imagine that!
Ralph Nader applauded the Denver Post today for “an act of civic courage” in refusing to permit a corporation to rename — and thereby redefine — a fixture of the city’s civic life. The statement followed the Post’s announcement today that it will refer to the new Denver Broncos stadium by its nickname of “Mile High” stadium and not “Invesco Field” or “Invesco Field at Mile High.”
“It is commendable that the Denver Post has taken this stand against commercialism,” Nader said. “The renaming of American traditions and institutions by corporations who shell out dollars must be confronted and opposed by the civic culture.”
“This is truly an important act,” Nader said. “It is in the best tradition of American newspapers to name things what they are rather than what corporations want them to be. Finally, an American newspaper is taking a stand and saying that corporations cannot buy every last inch of our culture, our local memories, and our civic spaces, and have us accept it.”
The Denver Post reported today that “”The community at large thinks of this [Denver's new stadium] as ‘Mile High,’ ‘new Mile High’ or ‘the new stadium’,” Post Editor Glenn Guzzo said. “Outside of official circles seldom do you hear Invesco Field, except in negative terms…In this case, the community’s terminology is familiar, positive and clear. We think our decision will be accepted widely,” Guzzo said.
“Other newspapers, radio and TV stations should follow the lead in their community, that the Denver Post has just pioneered,” Nader said. “The power to name is the power to define.”
Excerpts from the Denver Post article:
- Despite public outcry, the Metropolitan Football Stadium District sold the naming rights to Invesco Funds Group in January. The Denver-based mutual funds company will pay $60 million over 20 years to call the stadium Invesco Field at Mile High.
That money will be used to reduce the taxpayers’ corporate welfare payments on the $400.8 million stadium, which opens Saturday with an Eagles concert.
Denver Mayor Wellington Webb was astonished by The Post’s new policy.
“The name Mile High Stadium has a deep tradition for the city and Broncos fans,” Webb said. “I believe the name always should be Mile High Stadium and so do the citizens of Denver.”
Corporate hirelings were mad. Said Jim Saccomano, director of public relations for the corporate welfare Broncos: “The Denver Post refers to every stadium in the country by its full name. It would be inappropriate for them to do otherwise for Invesco Field at Mile High.”
Ray Baker, chairman of the corporate welfare stadium district, questioned why The Post would change a policy for one sports venue. The newspaper will not change its policy concerning Coors Field and Pepsi Center.
Said Nader in an earlier article:
- The tawdry spectacle of corporate-named stadiums is draining the fun out of sports.
Our country is besotted with corporate-named arenas like Qualcomm Stadium, MCI Arena, Enron Field, Pepsi Center, Fleet Center, Arco Arena and Bank One Ballpark. Every one of these corporate names grates on sports fans, who yearn for sports that are untainted by yammering pitchmen and blatant hucksterism.
The sale of naming rights is part of a broader trend — the ubiquitous ad-plastering and marketeering that accompanies the hostile corporate takeover of so much of our culture and our country.
We are drowning in a ocean of commercialism. We are buried under junk mail, telemarketing, junk faxes and billboards. We are barraged with ads in airport lounges, bus stops, doctors’ offices, movie theaters, hospitals, gas stations, elevators, convenience stores, on the Internet, on fruit, beach sand, garbage cans, ATMs and countless other places.
Even worse, our public schools have become showrooms for the delivery of ads to captive audiences of impressionable children. And our elections have been commercialized and corrupted by huge sums of corporate “soft money” campaign contributions.
It’s time to reverse the trend. Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to own or control everything, including much of our culture. Nor should corporate marketers be allowed to buy or lay claim to every moment of our attention. Denver Mayor Wellington Webb said it best: “not everything should be for sale. ”
This is not just about a stadium name. This is about whether we might have physical and mental space that is not cluttered by corporate logos nor colonized by the materialistic, self-serving, money-is-everything values of the market.
Sports profiteers are overconfident. Sports marketing expert Dean Bonham predicted that “by 2002, virtually every major sports facility in the country will have a naming-rights deal associated with it.”
Let’s prove him wrong. We don’t have to watch ballgames against a backdrop of ads from global corporate hucksters, too many of whom are corporate felons, polluters, tax cheats and corporate welfare recipients.
Editor’s note: Taxpayers are paying for three-quarters of the new stadium with a Jim Crow sales tax.
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