I was going to write about Ferguson but the reaction I provoked on Facebook yesterday over the name change for the Suns' home made me switch gears. I wrote, "Talking Stick Resort Arena. That pretty much says it all about Phoenix's inability to be a big city."
So far, 50 people have "liked" it. Much debate came in the comments. Aside from a small number of the usual why-are-you-picking-on-Phoenix notes, there was "Pitiful," "We have no visionary leadership in this city," "This all just makes me want to cry," and "Wait'll they move both teams to Talking Stick neighborhood. .....$10 says that is in the works."
On the other hand, I made some fans (so they said) mad for allegedly being unfair to Phoenix. Still others thought it wasn't a big deal. But they took the time to comment. Someone made the excuse that Phoenix is a "young city," a canard I have tried to knock down before. A couple of comments gave the whiff of, "he doesn't just hate Phoenix, he tortures kittens for sport (and from Seattle, which doesn't even have an NBA team!)".
It started as an offhand comment. Then it became clear I had run sandpaper over a very raw nerve.
Let's stipulate that pro sports are one of the many cesspools in our evermore corrupt and venal society. This is true everywhere. Naming rights always struck me as odd. Who chooses to do business with an outfit because their moniker is stuck on a sports arena? Maybe it's like penis enlargement spam. Somebody must be responding or it would go away.
All over the country, team owners have not been content to extort palaces from the taxpayers under threat of leaving. They also want to milk more cash from naming rights. Only a few places — Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park — have avoided the sellout. It's one more way to suck income upwards while also destroying the history and even poetry of many former sports venue names.