It's all happening at whatchamacallit stadium

Quick question, no Googling: where is the CitiPower Centre? Melburnians, if you don't know, you should: it's in your backyard, and it is going host international cricket next summer.

OK, what about Mars Stadium? McDonald Jones Stadium? GMHBA Stadium? Give up? Two have AFL footy this weekend, and one is staging the A-League grand final on Saturday night. Bonus point if you matched all three grounds to happenings.

TIO Stadium? Cazaly's? Optus? A different TIO? Blundstone? Spotless? UNSW? All AFL grounds this season. Adelaide Arena? Another AFL ground, but not within cooee of where you might think.

Few stadium names are yet to be commercialised.

Confused? Here's another set: Shell Stadium, Baytec Stadium, Skilled Stadium, Simonds Stadium, GMHBA Stadium? It's a trick question, of course. They're all the same place, formerly (and in fact still) Kardinia Park. Baytec's hold on the naming rights didn't last long enough even to get to the baptism, but there you go. There they all go, sooner or later.

Sport has been selling the farm for a long time now. Everything's up for grabs, nailed down or not. Banks, betting companies, brokers, line up here: a mark, a kick, a guernsey, a theme song (remember "here we go Camry Crows"?) even a footballer's christened name once, Garry Hocking's, which Geelong sold for cat food.

Nothing is above commercial exploitation.

Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has a patent-winning celebration, whereby he drinks champagne from his boot. It's called a "shoey". Except that it's not patent to Ricciardo any more, because Formula One this week trademarked this piece of "intellectual property" (!) for its own money-grubbing purposes.

Racing has long been known for its dissolute ways, but might have broken new ground this week when two betting companies managed to attach their names simultaneously to the Warrnambool Cup, and when Tom Waterhouse eased his way back into the limelight, offering clients the chance to "learn directly from the fourth-generation elite in betting" when what he meant was three generations of elite and one of infamous fraudulence in what is still the greatest scandal in Australian racing history, try as Aquanita might.

Kardinia Park, 1965.

Just this week, too, an ad for Sydney Swans hospitality suites ended up on the front of Breitbart, which is what happens when you send your commercial pitch off on the high seas of the internet, and don't mind much where it fetches up.

But stadium naming rights remain the most, well, dislocating. It's because they're always there, and then they're not. The commercial appellations slosh around and around, periodically changing hands and swapping cities. There seems to be an AAMI around every corner, and an ANZ in every town, and once, because there was already a Telstra Stadium in Sydney, the Telstra in Melbourne had to become a Dome, which it patently was not, and it was OK, because the Sydney Telstra soon became an ANZ anyway.

Nothing and nowhere was not for rent. Even the MCG valued its name rights once, or do I mean priced them? When Perth sketched out a new stadium, then-premier Colin Barnett loftily declared that he would not prostitute its name. That promise did not outlive a change of government, and so instead of Swan Stadium, we have another bloody Optus.

Does it matter? I think it does. It's blatant. John Elliott might have been a bit of a blackguard, and his name on a stand at Carlton a source of angst, but at least you knew that he was wholly invested. It's tacky, but worse than that, obtuse. When a name is barely identifiable either as itself or with a place and a history, it fails. Geelong have a terrific stadium with a(nother) crap name.

Formerly Marathon Stadium, EnergyAustralia Stadium, Ausgrid Stadium and Hunter Stadium.

It's embarrassing. Much as NSW wanted to pull down ANZ Stadium last month, now ANZ surely does. Instead, it sits there, nameplate blaring: we've got all your money, and your footy ground, too.

Above all, by divorcing sport's nomenclature from its heritage, and enjoining us all in the repeated act of instant forgetting, Big Brother style, it creates an impermanence that jars on the many of us who like to think sport is not merely ephemera. If the name doesn't matter except for saleability, what does?

I was momentarily buoyed this week to learn that the name of the cricket ground in Cardiff was reverting from witless SSE SWALEC Stadium to Sophia Gardens, with all its resonances. But this happy restoration is only until another buyer is found.

Source: Read Full Article