THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: What’s in a stadium name? Depends on the money

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The name Safeco Field was part of our consciousness for so long that you almost forgot it was named after a company.

Some called it The Safe.

That’s when you know you have a good corporate name for a stadium — when it sounds like an actual name of a stadium.

Or an arena.

Now the Mariners play in something called T-Mobile Park, which sounds about as corporate as it gets.

The Seahawks play at CenturyLink Field. Before that, Qwest Field. Before that, Seahawks Stadium.

OK, the first two are corporate names, but somewhat manageable. Many call it The Clink, anyway.

These days, the Huskies play basketball at something called Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. But to most of us, the Huskies still play at Hec Ed.

The Moda Center in Portland will always be known as the Rose Garden to many.

Some might be fine businesses, but are just plain silly as arena names.

Vivant Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, home of the Utah Jazz.

No. Delta Center was a better name. Home of Stockton to Malone.

Even better — the old Salt Palace.

BOISE STATE recently landed a new corporate sponsor for its basketball arena.

Gone is the Taco Bell Arena, after 15 years and $4 million paid to the school — in currency, presumably, not in tacos.

Now it will be called ExtraMile Arena, at $8.4 million for the next 15 years.

Doesn’t quite roll as majestically off the tongue as Taco Bell Arena, or even the BSU Pavilion.

But at least there’s a regional tie to the name.

ExtraMile Convenience Stores is a joint venture between Chevron, USA Inc. and Jacksons Food Stores Inc. There’s several Jacksons

see NELKE, B3

C-stores in the Treasure Valley. Maybe Jacksons Arena would have been a better name; Jacksons Track is the indoor track facility out in Nampa, near the Ford Idaho Center. But if they’re trying to push the ExtraMile name out there, that’s their option.

BSU’s blue-turfed football stadium was called Bronco Stadium for years, until Albertsons came along and ponied up $12.5 million for 15 years to call it Albertsons Stadium.

Again, that’s a regional brand, so it kinda fits.

When the University of Idaho finally gets its basketball arena built, it will be called ICCU Arena, for the next 35 years, at a cost of $10 million from the Idaho Central Credit Union.

Good thing they’re going by ICCU and not the entire tongue twister of a name.

YOU CAN’T blame schools and teams for selling out to corporate sponsors, who want to attach their name to a stadium or arena in exchange for some cash.

It’s basically free money for the schools and teams — minus the inconvenience of getting fans used to a new name.

There’s no “scale” for naming rights or years on buildings — it’s simply what the schools/teams and businesses negotiate.

It’s just that some corporate names sound better on stadiums and arenas than others.

The dome at Idaho State University was originally called the Minidome. Then it was renamed Holt Arena in honor of longtime athletic director Milton W. “Dubby” Holt.

But what if, say, Buddy’s, the popular Italian restaurant in Pocatello where a full order of salad is WAY too much, wanted to shell out some dough for naming rights to the dome?

The Buddy Dome?

The Spokane Arena is a nice building, getting loads of pub every few years when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament dribbles into town.

Suppose Dick’s, the iconic hamburger joint downtown, was interested in cashing in on that by attaching its name to the arena?

Moving on ...

The Kibbie Dome name has been around so long that some might not even know it was named after a person.

But some 40 years ago, William H. Kibbie gave the U of I $300,000 toward construction costs for a domed stadium, which was — and is — quite a bargain.

If the U of I decided it wanted more money in exchange for changing the name of its dome, I guess the Vandals can go out and solicit bids from area businesses.

Just be careful what you wish for.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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