By Terry Foster
Legend Gordie Howe is dead and there is a groundswell to name Little Caesars Arena after Howe.
A growing number of fans want it and they are making demands to make the change. They are not living in reality. This is a new era of sports where name recognition and money rules. New arenas and stadiums are rarely named after individuals.
Currently, 85 of 122 arenas and stadiums in the NBA, NFL. NHL and Major League Baseball have corporate naming rights. And that number is likely to increase before it decreases.
The push is in to earn more money and to pay athletes millions of dollars. In this town alone we have Ford Field and Comerica Park. They even named the minor league baseball stadium after subway giant Jimmy Johns.
The only arena not named after a corporation is the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Across the nation we have PNC Park, KFC Yum Arena, American Airlines Arena, Progressive Field and Busch Stadium.
Could the Red Wings survive financially by naming the stadium after Gordie Howe? Of course they could. Comerica Park generates $2.2 million annually and Ford Field $1 million a year. That is the price of a below average player.
But there are big money rights deals. Staples Center in Los Angeles generates $5.8 million a year and Phillips Arena in Atlanta $9.3 million.
The Red Wings are simply shuffling money around in naming the arena after an entity it owns. However, there are other benefits.
It provides free publicity, fan loyalty and brand awareness. The Wings are hoping that we hear Little Caesars so much that we buy a few more Hot and Ready’s. We will see their brand in newspapers and on radio and television.
Even if you tell friends you are going to Little Caesars Arena for a Red Wings game that is free publicity.
Here is what the Wings could do. They could name the rink Gordie Howe rink. They could name it Little Caesars Gordie Howe Arena. But that might not work because we would be more likely to gravitate towards calling it Howe Arena.
I would love for the new arena to be named Gordie Howe Arena.
It simply is not realistic in today’s game.