"" Writer's Wanderings: Buy a Building Name

Monday, May 01, 2006

Buy a Building Name

A recent news story told of a community that was selling the rights to name a school in their area. This buy-a-building-name craze is really spreading. What happpened to the idea that public buildings were named for people who had done something for their community, state, or country?

Our arena which is home to the Cavaliers used to be known as the Gund, named after the owner of the Cavs. I believe he helped build the place and certainly has contributed to our community. Now the fellow from Quicken Loans has bought the team and immediately the name of the arena changed to the Quicken Loan Arena. It is sheer out and out advertising--albeit expensive advertising. Every side of the building has a huge Quicken Loan sign in blazing lights. The side facing Jacobs Field (our ballpark) is prudently placed where it can be seen by most people in the stands and, when a home run is hit, stands a good chance of being seen by TV viewers.

And now we are going to sell naming rights to schools?

I would ask what's next--names for babies? But that's already been done on e-bay. Maybe we'll sell the rights to name the Washington Monument or the Empire State Building. After all, if it's all about revenue wouldn't that help add to the coffers of state and federal governments? Maybe lower taxes? Sure. Do you suppose someone would go for buying the right to name my house? I see mortgage payments disappearing with that prospect.

It will be sad to see this turn into a vanity or marketing ploy with all of our public buildings. Sad because it's a sign that we are loosing respect for the memory or appreciation of the people who never ask for anything in return when they contribute to society but are at least honored by their name being on a building or a monument or sometimes only a plaque on a wall--not even lit by lights.

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