HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — And then there were three.
Only three of the NBA’s 30 arenas do not bear a corporate name: Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks; The Palace of Auburn Hills, home to the Detroit Pistons; and New Orleans Arena, home of the rebranded Pelicans.
Truth be told, that number will soon shrink to two if the Pelicans can find a willing corporate partner.
Last year’s renaming of Milwaukee’s Bradley Center to BMO (Harris Bank) Bradley Center dropped us to four. And Tuesday’s announcement in Portland that the awesomely named Rose Garden Arena — affectionately called simply the Rose Garden — is now the antiseptic Moda Center, made it a lonely three. The deal with Moda Health, a regional health and dental insurance provider, reportedly is for 10 years and $40 million, or $4 million a year, or about $1.4 million less than backup guard Mo Williams will earn the next two seasons.
The Trail Blazers called The Rose Garden Home since 1995, and although team president and CEO Chris McGowan surmised: “The Rose Garden put us on the map, the Moda Center’s going to take us into the future,” Blazers fans seem to have an affinity for roses.
The sudden death of The Rose Garden made us nostalgic for the good ol’ days when an arena name meant something, by gosh, or at least sounded like it did. Gone are The Omni, The MECCA, The Spectrum, The Summit and The “Fabulous” Forum, among others.
Lost are the coliseums like the Coliseum at Richfield — or as I remember it, “Richfield Colisuem” — and the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Which leads to another bygone era of patriotism in arena/stadium naming such as Phoenix’s old barn and Portland’s Rose Garden predecessor, Memorial Coliseum.
And forget about naming an arena after the great metropolis in which it sits. Once New Orleans finds a deal (assuming it can), the mighty Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills will stand alone.
We’re left with a hodgepodge of cold, corporate neon signs on big buildings. It’s difficult enough to keep track of player movement, let alone which stodgy bank or hot company du jour has its name on which arena this week.
Some of these companies seem to come and go with every Wall Street ebb and flow. Quick, name the Philadelphia 76ers’ home arena … For 27 years they suited up at The Spectrum. In the 17 years since moving into a new arena, the place has gone by four corporate names. If you said Wells Fargo Center, congratulations. If you said CoreStates Center, First Union Center or Wachovia Center, please catch up.
It’s hard to believe we’re a solid two decades into naming-rights deals with the late, great Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss really ushering in the era 25 years ago when he signed a deal with Great Western Savings and Loan, changing the Forum to Great Western Forum. The genius behind it is there was little backlash because so few people outside California recognized Great Western as a bank, it almost seemed like a natural name change for a venue that had grown famous for its basketball, boxing and concerts.
The Chicago Bulls weren’t too far behind, going corporate in 1994 with their move into the cavernous United Center and the great Celtics ditched the Boston Garden a year later for something called the FleetCenter. Yes, Fleet specializes in enemas, but this Fleet was actually a Boston-based bank. Of course, once Fleet was sold to Bank of America, the arena name had to be flushed.
In the name of nostalgia, what follows is a history of arena names for each of today’s 30 NBA teams (via basketball-reference.com):
Alexander Memorial Coliseum (1968-72); Omni Coliseum (1972-97); Georgia Dome (1997-99); Philips Arena (99-present)
Boston Garden (1947-95); FleetCenter (1995-2005); TD Banknorth Garden (2005-09); TD Garden (2009-present)
Barclays Center (2012-present);
As the New Jersey Nets: Rutgers Athletic Center (1978-81); Brendan Byrne Arena (1981-96); Continental Airlines Arena (1996-2007); Izod Center (2007-10), Prudential Center (2010-12)
Charlotte Coliseum (2004-05); Charlotte Bobcats Arena (2005-08); Time Warner Cable Arena (08-present)
International Amphitheater (1966-67); Chicago Stadium (1967-94); United Center (1994-present)
Cleveland Arena (1971-74); Coliseum at Richfield (1974-94); Gund Arena (1994-2005); Quicken Loans Arena (2006-present)
Reunion Arena (1980-2001); American Airlines Center (2001-present)
Denver Auditorium (1974-75); McNichols Sports Arena (1975-99); Pepsi Center (1999-present)
Detroit Olympia (1957-61); Cobo Arena (1961-78); Pontiac Silverdome (1978-88); The Palace of Auburn Hills (1988-present)
Golden State Warriors
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena (1972-96); San Jose Arena (1996-97 while Oakland arena renovated); The Arena in Oakland (1997-2004); Oakland Arena (2004-06); Oracle Arena (2006-present)
Hofheinz Pavilion (1971-75); The Summit (1975-98); Compaq Center (1998-2004); Toyota Center (2004-present)
Indiana State Fair Coliseum (1967-74); Market Square Arena (1974-99); Conseco Fieldhouse (1999-2011); Bankers Life Fieldhouse (2011-present)
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1985-99); STAPLES Center (1999-present)
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1961-67); The Forum (1967-88); Great Western Forum (1988-99); STAPLES Center (1999-present)
Pyramid Arena (2001-04); FedExForum (2004-present)
Miami Arena (1989-99); American Airlines Arena (1999-present)
Milwaukee Arena (1968-74); The MECCA (1974-88); Bradley Center (1988-2012); BMO Bradley Center (2012-present)
Metrodome (1989-90); Target Center (1990-present)
New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans
New Orleans Arena (2002-present)
New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden (1947-present)
Oklahoma City Thunder
Ford Center (2008-09); Oklahoma City Arena (2009-10); Chesapeake Energy Arena (2010-present)
Orlando Arena (1989-99); TD Waterhouse Centre (1999-2006); Amway Arena (2006-present)
Convention Hall (1963-67); The Spectrum (1967-94); CoreStates Spectrum (1994-96); CoreStates Center (1996-98); First Union Center (1998-2003); Wachovia Center (2003-10); Wells Fargo Center (2010-present)
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum (1969-92); America West Arena (1992-2007); US Airways Center (2007-present)
Portland Trail Blazers
Memorial Coliseum (1971-95); Rose Garden Arena (1995-2013); Moda Center (as of Tuesday)
ARCO Arena (1985-09); Power Balance Pavilion (2009-12); Sleep Train Arena (2012-present)
San Antonio Spurs
HemisFair Arena (1973-93); Alamodome (1993-2002); SBC Center (2002-06); AT&T Center (2006-present)
SkyDome (1995-98); Air Canada Centre (1998-present)
Salt Palace (1979-91); Delta Center (1991-06); EnergySolutions Arena (2006-present)
Capital Centre (1974-93); US Airways Centre (1993-97); MCI Center (1997-2006); Verizon Center (2006-present)