A Ketchup Company Didn’t Think Being A Title Sponsor For Pittsburgh’s Stadium Was Worth It

The Pittsburgh stadium has a new title sponsor.

The National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers franchise’s stadium has a new name. The ketchup company that had its brand name on the stadium for the past 20 years decided that it was not worth the price that Steelers ownership wanted to place a corporate name on the building’s marquee. Corporate names have been on stadiums since 1927 when Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley, who sold Wrigley gum, renamed his park Wrigley Field. Crosley Field in Cincinnati and Briggs Stadium in Detroit also had corporate names. The Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick would not approve the name change of St. Louis’s Sportsmen’s Park to Budweiser Stadium after Gussie Busch bought the Cardinals in 1953. Busch purchased the Cardinals and was planning on using the team as a promotional vehicle to sell beer. The St. Louis brewery got around Frick and National League owners by putting out Busch beer. The stadium was named after the team owner. There was nothing Frick could do to stop that.

By the 1970s, corporate sponsorships of sports started to take hold. The women’s tennis tour was sponsored by a cigarette, Virginia Slims, there was the Marlboro Cup horse race, the John Hancock Sun Bowl, the Nabisco Masters Tennis Tournament, Arco Arena in Sacramento, the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. In 1988, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss sold the naming rights of the Forum in Inglewood to Great Western Bank. That move was the start of something new. Selling naming rights. The NBA and NHL owner Buss got panned for selling the naming rights to a bank. But there was money to be made. It has never been proven that buying naming rights to a stadium or an arena is a worthwhile investment. Names come and go but as long as the checks clear it doesn’t matter.

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