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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Naming Rights Gone Wild?

When I had some free time during a conference I attended this past weekend in Chicago I wandered over to Millennium Park, the beautiful downtown park adjacent to the Art Institute.  While looking for directions I ran across this sign, which startled me for the sheer number of corporate names attached to various parts of the park:

Millennium Park

I know naming rights have been handed out pretty freely over the last couple of decades or so, starting, I guess, with sports arenas.  (I still remember the Simpsons episode about 10-15 years ago where Federal Express bought the naming rights to the Constitution.)  But is this this park an extreme version of that phenomenon?  Or have I missed a major ratcheting up of corporate naming? Or is this just a case of the changed face of philanthropy?  I mean, Central Park has Wollman Rink, and (on a different scale) a large number of bench plaques that you can buy.  But this seems different: I mean, you take the BP Bridge to the Exelon Pavilion to the Boeing Gallery, ending at AT&T Plaza?  Really?

Posted by Bill Araiza on November 6, 2012 at 03:54 PM | Permalink


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Sorry for the small size of the picture -- if you click on the image you can get a clearer view.

Posted by: Bill Araiza | Nov 6, 2012 3:55:56 PM

If the people aren't willing or able to pay higher taxes, you have to find revenues some other way to open up new services like this relatively new park in Chicago. The boundaries are starting to come down in schools too, where sponsorships are migrating from the sports facilities to the school buildings.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 6, 2012 5:18:53 PM

On a related matter, did you get a chance to see a selection of the honorary street signs during your visit? I document them via photos all over Chicago. My personal pet peeve is illustrated by my favorite, on a downtown corner that has one "real" street signs and TWO honorifics. Here are some details about Chicago's mysterious street signs: http://gapersblock.com/airbags/archives/signs_signs_everywhere_honorary_street_signs/

Posted by: DBorman | Nov 8, 2012 10:41:19 AM

Interesting, thanks for the comment. I have to admit I didn't notice any signs like that, but I wasn't on the lookout for them. Is the phenomenon more prevalent in Chicago than other places? Certainly NYC has its share of those types of signs.

Posted by: Bill Araiza | Nov 9, 2012 12:47:34 PM

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