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Saturday, May 08, 2004
Ameriquest Field at where?
So the Rangers sold the name of the Ballpark in Arlington to Ameriquest Mortgage - the new name is Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Tom Hicks, owner of the team, lived up to the "gentleman's agreement" he had with the city to keep the word Arlington in the name. Unfortunately, the rest of the world will soon known the stadium as Ameriquest Field. Thus, the team will receive $75 million over thirty years and the city's name will slowly be disassociated with the stadium.
Before I moved to Arlington, I only knew the city existed because of the Ballpark in Arlington. The Texas Rangers could play anywhere in the large state of Texas, but no - they played in Arlington, which is in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. The city's name in the stadium was not only quaint and a bit old-fashioned (not a negative to baseball fans), but it did provide some "advertising" for the city.
Another interesting aspect of naming rights deals is that they are almost always signed for ten, twenty or thirty years. Hell, the Texas Rangers have only been in Arlington for thirty years and very well may be relocated to another stadium in the next thirty years. Other deals signed with Enron, Pacific Bell, TWA, and so forth have all gone by the wayside as the firms that signed the deal either went bankrupt, were bought out by other firms or otherwised merged. The long-range planning of the people at Ameriquest may be an attempt to send a signal to investors that Ameriquest plans to stick around that long, but given the previous history of naming deals it is unlikely that the signal conveys any information that investors don't already know.
I am sure that here in Arlington the stadium will always be called the Ballpark - perhaps that will hold over in the immediate vicinity. However, the city of Arlington lost out in the naming deal and, too boot, will not share in the proceeds. Hicks suggested that he might spend the extra money on additional players, but this is hard to believe on the surface.
Indeed, using data from the 1990's, initial empirical tests indicate that selling the name of the stadium has nt subsequent impact on the real dollars spent on player salaries - not surprising seeing as the return on $2.5m is likely higher in other endeavors than investing in a ball player. The idea that the team owner would buy more talent after selling the naming rights might seem reasonable to baseball fans but has no economic rationale.
However, it is refreshing that even if commercialization will continue apace on the outside of the stadium, the fans rebelled against proposed advertisements of Spider Man 2 on the bases and home plate. Baseball has evidently scuttled the deal.
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