Corpo-Name Disease: Stop the Plague!

January 15, 2001

Want to get in on a hex? This one's a killer. It's ruined more
companies than blonde receptionists and three-Stoli lunches
combined.

All you have to do is repeat after me: "I, [your name], do hereby
invoke the Oprah of all curses on all companies that for greedy
profit slap their monikers on stadiums that used to be named for
our heroes, our history and our cities. May they all go down the
drain faster than New Coke."

I invoked the hex the day I heard that Oakland Coliseum had been
changed to Network Associates Coliseum. Yes, the spleen-ripping,
child-eating Raiders now play out of Network Associates. Al
Davis: "Just associate, baby."

That, plus the awful truth that 1) the Baltimore Ravens play at a
stadium called PSINet, which, I believe, is an extra-hold hair
spray; 2) the Seattle Mariners play at Safeco Field, which is one
in a chain of Mister Rogers-approved kids' playgrounds; 3) there
are arenas or stadiums in this country named PNC, PGE, P&C, MCI,
RCA and HSBC; 4) Louisville plays football at--I swear this is
true--Papa John's Cardinal Stadium; and 5) three venues are named
for Alltel and three for Pepsi.

I had no choice. I hexed the bejesus out of those companies.
Using two strands of Marge Schott's chest hair, a gallon of
French's mustard and an old Brian Bosworth quote read backward, I
hexed their top brass and their bottom lines. I prayed they'd
crash and burn faster than pogs.

The results were hexcellent! Twenty-three of the 51 companies
that ponied up huge bucks to put their names on pro stadiums and
arenas have lost at least one quarter of their stock price over
the past year! PSINet has dropped 98%! The stock options for
Qualcomm (the stadium in San Diego) and Conseco (Indianapolis)
are so far underwater, they're growing gills! Savvis (St. Louis)
is down 93%! CMGI (New England Patriots) has fallen 97%, and the
stadium hasn't even been built!

And it's not just me. People across the U.S. are rising up
against corpo-name disease. In Denver a skinny restaurateur named
John Hickenlooper heard that the new citizen-paid-for Mile High
Stadium was going to become Invesco Field or some such cheesiness
and thought, Hey, wait a minute! How much is the name Mile High
Stadium worth to this city? How many people hear Al Michaels go,
"Live, from Mile High Stadium..." and think, I'm going to live
there, or I'm going to visit there? He commissioned a poll, which
showed that most Denverites agreed with him. Then the mayor
agreed. Then Hickenlooper helped pay for 50,000 signs, handed out
at a Broncos game, that read MILE HIGH STADIUM: BEST NAME BY A
MILE. Now, no corporation with half a focus group will touch it,
lest it risk the Oprah of all boycotts.

So rise up, Chicago! The Bears want to hyphenate the newly
renovated Soldier Field. Don't let them! Put it this way: Would
you take your World War I veteran great-grandfather to
Samsung-Soldier Field?

Rise up, Boston! Not only are the Red Sox going to abandon the
greatest ballpark of all, Fenway, but they're talking about
naming the new stadium Polaroid Park! Sounds like an amusement
park for flashers!

Rise up, citizens of Canada and the U.S.! After all, do you
really need nine North American sports venues named after
airlines? Do you really want vapid, soul-sucking names that will
change more often than a Madonna hairstyle? (The Philadelphia
76ers and Flyers played in the Spectrum, CoreStates Center and
First Union Center in four years.) Don't your heroes (Joe Louis,
RFK, Connie Mack) and your favorite places (The Stick, Three
Rivers, Market Square) mean more to you than a fourth vacation
home for one more cigar-snipping marketing director?

So find the Hickenlooper inside you! Hex from the bottom of your
hexer the community-crumbling megacompanies that try to steal
your sense of who you are and where you are! Vow never to let a
single corpo-name poison your lips!

Because if you don't stop them now, I guarantee the corporate fat
cats will rename everything. You'll visit the Statue of Liberty
Mutual. Kids will go to school at P.S. Century 21. And you'll
find yourself saying, "O.K., you take a left at Our Lady of Midol
and a right onto Frito Lane, and we're the house shaped like
Colonel Sanders."

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA

There are now arenas or stadiums in this country named PNC, PGE,
P&C, MCI, RCA and HSBC.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)