What’s the home of the Vikings?

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Rendering of US Bank Stadium (currently under construction)

A new stadium is being built for the Minneapolis Vikings American football team. The stadium will actually be called the “US Bank” stadium. The home of the Vikings is the IS Bank stadium.  I guess both Vikings and Banks have a reputation for collecting money from other people….

The US bank sponsorship team haven’t come up with a stadium name that inspires fun, images of fabulous things, aspirations and warm feelings for the local customers. It’s the name of the bank. No creativity or imagination involved.  To me it says, we’ve got lots of money and we want to you see and say our name every time you’re thinking of the local football team. A succinct message that says a lot about the culture of the IS Bank and the needs of the organisation providing the stadium (Minneapolis city?).

When I lived in Seattle the new Baseball stadium there was named “Safeco field”. Safeco is a huge insurance company in the USA. I understand that these fabulous buildings, cathedrals of our millennium, do need funding and that financial companies have the spare funds and the motivation to get their names known, seen in places associated with positive emotions. The new Baseball stadium in Minneapolis is called the Target field. Target is a large American retail chain. Somehow this name works for me beacuse pitchers target their baseball to be in play, the name is still meaningful if the company ceased to exist…

The trend to name stadiums after local corporations has produced some really poor names. In 2013 daily finance listed unfortunate American stadium names:

  1. Enron field
  2. Northwest Delta Dental Stadium
  3. Save-on-foods memorial Centre
  4. KFC Yum! Centre
  5. Amway Center
  6. Overstock.com coliseum
  7. CITI field
  8. Candlestick/3Com/monsterpark (I don’t understand this, what is the stadium called?)
  9. Whataburger field

‘Field’, ‘Coliseum’, ‘Stadium’ do at least refer to the sports, games, role of the place. This website lists the best NFL stadium names as:

  1. Lambeau Field
  2. Soldier Field.
  3. Arrowhead Stadium
  4. Ralph Wilson Stadium
  5. Paul Brown Stadium.
  6. Ford Field.
  7. Lincoln Financial Field.  Everybody calls it “The Link.”

If these are the best, I’m not impressed.

Stadium names that have impressed me are not listed anywhere, except here:

  1. Stadium of light. Sunderland FC. Wikipedia says the stadium name was chosen as “as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future. The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine.” Compared to the NFL stadiums this is small, but the thought and specialness of this stadium shown in design detail (the Davey lamp at the entrance) is deeply moving.
  2. Pride park. Derby city FC. Officially this is the “iPro stadium”, the sponsored name came after the stadium had developed it’s own name within the community. The sponsored name will not have sufficient ‘appeal’ to replace the commonly used name. The sponsor does get associated with the Park by being the official name.
  3. The Den. Millwall FC. I like this name because of the enthusiasm of a class mate (age 7, in Bristol) who explained to me what “the Den” was, he was so happy, this was clearly a very special place. That Millwall have managed to keep that link with thief original stadium name is impressive.

I have strong affections for the grounds I’ve attended regularly, supporting local teams. The common naming theme here is the location of the stadium. It’s relevant to ‘place’ which makes a lot of seen to me and could outlive any renaming strategy from currently existing stadium:

  1. Ashton Gate, the home of Bristol City, my local team as a teenager.
  2. Fratton Park home of “Pompey”, Portsmouth City FC since 1898! The wendy house was located about 1000yrds from the ground 1993-1996, I regularly went to games

I’d like these companies to think about the aspirations and values of the stadium customers, I’d like corporate naming strategists to come up with something attendees can be emotionally attached to, relevant to them in a positive way. Ideally with at least a nodding reference to the name of the main team that is based there. The team name “Vikings” refers to the roots of the European settlers here and evokes images of aggression. The state is informally known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, a strap line placed on most car license plates. The stadium is near the banks of the Mississippi.  There are cultural cues that could be used to generate a name that could be linked with the banks name.

In 2013 Joe Loveland wrote an article exploring the ores and cons of possible names for the Viking’s stadium:

  1. U.S. Bank
  2. Land O Lakes Stadium.
  3. Wheaties Stadium.
  4. 3M Stadium.
  5. Matt’s Bar Stadium.
  6. OmniSynCorp Stadium.
  7. Target Stadium.
  8. People’s Stadium.

Cathedrals are traditionally named after Saints, if stadiums are our new cathedrals, then corporations are our new saints. It doesn’t sit well with me.

I look forward to the day when corporate sponsorship for naming steps out of bland placing of one companies name on the building to inspiring naming strategies. Take a risk.

 

What’s the home of the Vikings?
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