FURTHER REVIEW: What’s in a name?

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.

So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”

- Janis Joplin

The classic Janis Joplin song “Mercedes Benz” was the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about the Louisiana Superdome’s new name.

I always interpreted the song as a sarcastic look at materialism in society. It would have been easy to take a cynical route with the line of thinking on the development.

When I found out that the arena known as the Louisiana Superdome since its opening in 1975 would have a new name, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about it. I?can see both sides of the “to name or not to name” debate. I?have wondered for years why the arena has stuck with the same old non-commercial moniker.

On the one hand, it seems to be a trend among major sporting venues everywhere to offer naming rights to companies with deep pockets.

Though the building is owned by the State of Louisiana, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints organization maintain the authority to sell the rights.

Tuesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Saints Owner Tom Benson and Mercedes-Benz USA?President and CEO?Ernst Leib to announce the 10-year agreement reached between the team and the company to name the recently-renovated facility, the “Mercedes-Benz Superdome.”

On the surface, it may feel like a “sell out”?move, but it is beneficial to state taxpayers.

Jindal said the partnership “is estimated to significantly reduce or eliminate taxpayer funding currently spent to support the Saints.”

I generally stay away from politics in my sports writing, so I won’t delve too much into the taxpayer issues involved.

From a purely sporting perspective, selling naming rights is just as much a part of the modern game as the instant replay.

The way things are heading, advertising is bound to pop up in many new places formerly held as sacred. It’s just a matter of time before companies buy space on jerseys. We may even be destined for corporate logos at midfield and in the end zones.

It’s all a matter of how much tradition fans want to preserve.

Michael Tortorich is sports editor of the Gonzales Weekly Citizen. His weekly column is available in print and at weeklycitizen.com. He can be found on Twitter at @MikeTortorich.