Few issues bring out indignation of the "I'm a journalist, not a flack" variety as much as sponsors' use of the names of sports events and venues as advertising billboards. When I think about trying to draw the line on free advertising, though, the most decisive thing I can say is that I'm glad I'm not in the sports department.
I have a certain admiration for those who insist on, for instance, Mile High Stadium, but after a few days of civil disobedience I think you have to acknowledge that that isn't really the name of the place anymore. "Invesco Field at Mile High" seems like an idiotic compromise (Mile High isn't a place, is it?), but if you're going to ban Invesco Field, what about the double-fresh flavor of Wrigley Field? As for sporting events, a logical place to draw the line would seem to be the existence of a non-billboard name -- the GMAC Bowl has no other name, while the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl would be simply the Fiesta Bowl. But is that penalizing those sponsors that chose to align themselves with the big pre-existing games?
I have no good answers, but I will say this: Do the sports impresarios of Florida know what words mean?
First we had the National Car Rental Center. Yes, Car Rental Center. The place where people go to rent cars. No, it couldn't be the National Car Rental Arena or the National Car Rental Forum or the National Car Rental Coliseum or National Car Rental Gardens.
That place is now under different sponsorship (and Office Depot was smart enough not to call it the Office Depot Fax Machine Department), but we still have the St. Pete Times Forum. Great name for a feature on the commentary pages, horrible name for an arena. "Center" would have worked just fine there.
I'm waiting for Carnation Gardens and the Trojan Coliseum.