Farewell, PSINet Stadium -- but what name is next?

January 28, 2002|By Kevin Cowherd

SO HERE WE go again, wondering what horrible new name they'll stick on the ballpark that already has the ugliest name in sports: PSINet Stadium.

With the Internet services company now belly-up, this town is buzzing with suggestions for a new name.

Some of them are good, some not so good, some come from the John Walker Lindh fringe of society, if you catch my drift.

On the good side, I have heard Johnny Unitas Field, which sounds kind of catchy. Unpretentious yet classy, like the man himself.

I have heard William Donald Schaefer Stadium. (But if we name a stadium after the ex-mayor and ex-governor, why not just call it God Stadium? Doesn't Schaefer already consider himself the Supreme Being?

I have heard Memorial Stadium and New Memorial Stadium, which would be a nice kiss to the past, I suppose. And Ravens' Field and Ravens' Stadium, a bow to the future of football here.

On the not-so-good side, I have heard Raven`s Nest, The Nest, The Big Nest, the Purple Nest -- lots and lots of goofy variations on the whole nest theme.

Look, just because the NHL's Mighty Ducks play in Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, commonly known as the Pond, doesn`t mean we have to stoop to that silliness.

Finally, on the lunatic fringe side, I even heard someone on the radio throw out this one: Angelos Field.

But I hope that person was kidding.

That's all we need, a ballpark named after a high-priced lawyer.

What's next: the Dodgers playing in Johnnie Cochran Field?

The Red Sox in Alan Dershowitz Park?

Besides, with all the dough the big-shot Orioles owner rakes in from this big tobacco settlement case, he can build his own monument to himself.

Anyway, as I said, there's been no shortage of suggestions for re-naming the stadium.

And you know what?

None of them will ever see the light of day.

Because all indications are the Ravens will go with another corporate name and pocket the millions and millions of dollars that comes with that kind of sponsorship deal.

The deal with PSINet, after all, called for the Ravens to get $105 million over 20 years. If Art Modell passes up that kind of dough, his family will be moving him into Sheppard Pratt the next day.

The fact is, 61 stadiums and arenas in the U.S. and Canada carry corporate names.

And those names range from the bland (Pepsi Center in Denver) to the wordy (Edison International Field of Anaheim) to the truly horrendous (Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary.)

Which means when our stadium gets a new name, you'll be looking at something like Legg Mason Field or Comcast Park or something else equally warm and fuzzy.

The good news, of course, is that no matter what they call it, it has to be better than PSINet Stadium.

Remember when the Ravens first laid that one on us?

First of all, no one even knew how to pronounce it. People were pronouncing it Puh-sigh-net Stadium and Puh-Sin-Et Stadium and Sigh-Net Stadium.

Then when it became clear the damn thing was pronounced P-S-I Net Stadium, everyone in town had the same reaction: They hated it.

Because it had nothing to do with football, nothing to do with Baltimore.

And they'll hate this one, too.

That's one thing to keep in mind: Even though the trend has been to name stadiums after corporate sponsors, sports fans all over the country have never warmed to these sterile names of airlines and banking services and telecommunications giants.

Denver Bronco fans, in fact, raised such a stink about the re-naming of venerable Mile High Stadium that ownership caved in and grudgingly consented to call it Invesco Field at Mile High.

And sports fans tend to take a keen interest -- and have a visceral reaction -- whenever there's a stadium-naming issue in their town.

On WBAL-Radio the other morning, talk show host Chip Franklin asked callers for their suggestions on re-naming PSINet Stadium, and the phone lines lit up for 40 minutes.

"We could have done three hours," Franklin told me. "You get a lot of old-timers who feel real passionate about this."(Franklin himself came up with the "11 Best Names Not to Call the New Stadium," with one of his favorite's being Arthur Andersen Stadium. Motto: "If you don`t like the score, we'll change it. And always plenty of confetti!")

So people are all worked up about what the new stadium will be called, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

Then again, look on the bright side: At least we're not stuck with Enron Field, as the city of Houston and the Houston Astros are.

Enron Field, that makes PSINet Stadium sound like a symphony.

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