Naming rights associated with stadiums, fields and other sports venues began in 1912 with a real estate company in Boston, Fenway Realty, securing a deal to attach itself to a baseball stadium, known since as Fenway Park.
Over the years, billions of dollars have been spent on naming rights at venues around the world. In many cases, a good investment generating tremendous exposure for a brand.
But -- all bought and paid for.
It’s the names associated with venues that have not been paid for in cash that are the ones that have stories behind them and have a higher meaning.
I recently attended the naming ceremony of Pagel Field at Washington High School in Phoenix, recognizing long-time teacher and coach Tom Pagel, his late wife Rose and his five sons who all excelled as scholar athletes at the school, Karl, Bruce, Mike, Rick and Ross. It meant something because I grew up with the Pagels, playing Little League baseball and going to grade school and high school together. The Pagel involvement at WHS covered five decades.
There are thousands of stores like this one.
• Kibler Field at Horizon High School, named after Eric Kibler, the only varsity baseball coach in the school’s history. His teams have won five state titles since he launched the program in 1981.
• Jerry Dawson Field at Chaparral High School. Dawson coached baseball there for 37 years and is Arizona’s career leader in coaching victories.
• At Winslow High School in northeast Arizona, the Bulldogs play on Vargas Field. War hero and standout athlete Jay Vargas, is a highly decorated, now-retired United States Marine Corp colonel who earned a Medal of Honor in Viet Nam, among many other honors and awards.
Almost every town has at least one. What other names do you know that didn’t buy their way onto a sports venue?