Stadiums, with or without a name?

Naming a football stadium is a hard task. Football fans live with fanatic gut feelings anything that may affect their team and perceive the stadium as their own home. Naming or renaming their stadium is a very important decision for football fans.

Names of people

This may be the best solution, in view of the trends in naming stadiums. Many of the stadiums with a bigger capacity have been named after a person. Who? Obviously, the president whose strength and character made him deserve it … or impose it. Recent examples: Betis (Manuel Ruiz de Lopera), Rayo Vallecano (Teresa Rivero), Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid) or Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán (Sevilla), among others.

Some characters that have deserved this peculiar tribute have been playwright José Zorrilla (Valladolid) or the architect and Mayor Carlos Belmonte (Albacete), for example.

A curious and delicate variation is to mix football with religion … or the religion of football with the Catholic religion. This is how stadiums are devoted to the local saint, just like churches or cathedrals do: San Mamés-Athletic de Bilbao (known as the cathedral) or El Arcángel (the archangel, in Córdoba).

Place names

Another option is to name the stadium depending on its location. For example, the Mestalla (Valencia) or the Madrigal (Villarreal).

But, if we stick to that rule, we may reach extremes like the Espanyol in Barcelona, known as Cornellà-El Prat, because it is located between those two towns. Or an easier way: is it on the Gran Canary island? Then we will name it Gran Canary (Las Palmas).

Lack of imagination

The lack of imagination goes even further with patently obvious names. How should we name a new stadium? The responsibles are seized by doubt and the fear of letting a horrible name thrive.

A wise solution comes up: use the same old name, preceded by the adjective New (Nuevo in Spanish). This is how some stadiums have been renamed, for example the Nuevo José Zorrilla (Valladolid), or the Nueva Condomina (Murcia). And the best of them all: the Camp Nou (in Catalan, the New Field, in Barcelona). Just the concept of new, even though it dates from 1957.

Commercial names

There is nothing strange about XXI century clubs adopting the North American idea of selling the stadium’s name. The stadium of the Arsenal (London) is called Emirates Stadium after an airline; the Bayern (Munich), the Allianz Arena after the insurance company’s name.

The NBA is a clear example of that trend taken to the extreme. The Lakers court is named Staples Center (office supplies); the Celtics’ is named Banknorth Garden. The main North American airlines have their name on different sports pavilions. And companies such as Pepsi, Philips, Toyota and AT&T link their branding to several sports halls. A very interesting branding tool for our brands, cities, territories and lands.

A pioneering and profitable initiative of Spanish football deserves to be mentioned: the Ono Estadi (Mallorca) and Reyno de Navarra (Osasuna in Pamplona), have handed over the name of their stadiums to the cable telecommunication company and the Foral Community’s tourist brand respectively, which has brought the clubs considerable sums of money. It is doubtlessly a path that other teams will follow, thanks to a name and a brand.

Francesc Arquimbau.
Manager of Nombra (Coleman CBX)

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