Talking Points

Stadium name absurdity peaks with L.A.'s Crypto.com Arena

You know we're living in strange times when thousands of people are suddenly nostalgic for Staples — a store I didn't even realize still existed until the Los Angeles arena that bore its name announced it will soon be known by the URL for a cryptocurrency website instead.

Every time the naming rights for a stadium, arena, or field expire, there are always the diehard locals who can't stand the thought of their beloved sports temple being named after a different bank than the one for which it used to be known. It has become something of a flex to continue to refer to your closest venue by the old name — you can pick out a longtime New Yorker, for example, by her "accidental" reference to the Mets' home as "Shea Stadium." And I, for one, will forever call Seattle's football stadium Qwest Field to demarcate myself from the unworthy newcomers who've only ever known it as Lumen Field.

But as brands become objectively worse — with random new companies getting flush selling dog meme currencies with no intrinsic value and legacy companies trying to seem less evil — we probably have a future filled with Meta Parks and OpenSea Stadiums. Ugh.

Today's vintage stadium names were, of course, yesterday's blatant ads: Fenway Park was named for Fenway Realty, and Wrigley Field takes its name from the gum. But the names drifted into absurdity around the time of the dot-com boom, when "highflying technology companies bought up naming rights to stadiums and arenas, giving the world PSINet Stadium and Enron Field," The New York Times writes.

The Oakland stadium's naming history serves as a particularly bizarre example. Known initially (and informatively) as the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum when it was first built in 1966, the stadium became the Network Associates Coliseum in 1998, the McAfee Coliseum in 2004, Overstock.com Coliseum in early 2011 and O.co Coliseum later that year. After briefly returning to its original name in 2016, it's now RingCentral Coliseum, which is at least more readable than "O.co."

Crypto.com Arena — as Staples Center will now be known — at least has a good nickname, the Los Angeles Times points out, though by calling it the Crypt fans aren't exactly embracing the arena's new name so much as transforming it. And good for them, because the future, somehow, really is this dumb. Long live Barclays Center, after all.