Friday, February 07, 2014

The Whos Are Playing Where?

The Dread Dormammu Commands You To Get A Smoothie!
The name of an athletic team is intended to inspire. It is supposed to be an aspirational name, a name that can be chanted by throngs of devoted fans. It is supposed to be an aggressive name, a name that supporters will want to wear on their replica jerseys and t-shirts and hoodies and jackets, that they'll want to slap bumper stickers and tiny flags of on their cars. Think Lions, think Tigers, think Bears and Broncos and Seahawks and Predators. It is supposed to be, in a word, awesome.

The name of a stadium is supposed to be inspirational. Even in this age of corporate naming rights, an arena's name is supposed to let you know that you are going someplace special. Someplace important. Someplace unique. Consider The Forum, or Madison Square Garden. Consider the Pit and Death Valley, the Palestra and the DeanDome. A game there is an event, a special moment (even if it involves the home team beating some hapless Division II school that's only there for the single game paycheck that will fund their program for the rest of the season). It has, dare I say it, gravitas.

Today, the New Orleans Pelicans, formerly the New Orleans Hornets, formerly the Charlotte Hornets, brought in to at long last replace the New Orleans Jazz, who for decades have been the Utah Jazz, because when you think of Jazz you think of the Wasatch Mountains, announced a ten year naming rights deal for their home arena.

That's right. The Pelicans - a bird best known for ungainly flight, a wobbly lower jaw, and a hilarious bit part in Finding Nemo - will be playing for the next decade at the Smoothie King Center. Because nothing says "this game is an EVENT" like taking on a bunch of wobbly sea birds with seemingly limitless supplies of guano who infest a building that celebrates over-sweetened mushy concoctions of dubious nutritional value. On the bright side, their logo looks like a demonically possessed stork wearing a Saints hoodie, so they've got that going for them, but c'mon. 

I know there are a lot of pelicans around New Orleans. I know that Smoothie King is headquartered in the city, and that it's a major local employer. But somehow, the fantasy just kind of falls short. And not even a special taurine shot on a banana-strawberry protein shake will make it better.

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