New stadiums were a good idea, but destroying the Vet was wasteful. It was a perfectly good stadium, not terribly old, and had a lot of years left in it. 5,500 parking spaces could be found somewhere else. There's plenty of parking down there already. And didn't they just renovate it for $30 million a few years back? But that's a quibble. I want to talk about names.
One sad note is the passing of a civic-minded name for a corporate sponsorship. Citizens Bank and Lincoln Financial, while not horrible names, honor mammon, not the community. The fields are no longer considered a form of the public square or a community holding, but something entirely private. Which is ironic considering where the money came from. Citizens Bank Park should be called, "Taxpayers Park." The most esurient example of this trend is "Bears football presented by Banc One" instead of Chicago Bears.
For a while, sports were a collection of parks which honored the community or something beautiful nearby or something unique about the structure — Memorial Stadium, SkyDome, KingDome, Riverfront, Three Rivers, and of course Veterans Stadium. There was more parity back then, too.
Now everything is for sale ... and there's much less parity, at least in baseball.
My conservative friends sometimes make fun of the literary trend toward ridiculing commodification — especially David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, in which corporate sponsors bid to name a year. (Year of the Whopper instead of 20xx.) But there's something to that criticism. I find this kind of commodification of our public squares to be kind of creepy.
Don't think this is the end of it, either. Look for the naming rights to be sold to municipal parks, state and national parks, in order to cover budget shortfalls.
Central Park will Metropolitan Insurance Park. Hell, why not the city name, too: "General Electric presents New York City."
Gripe, gripe, gripe, I know. I'm going to get some breakfast.