Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Q

This is the future. Some of you might want to observe a moment of silence.
Last week, Cleveland's basketball arena became the first sports facility in the city to succumb to corporate naming rights.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Quicken Loans Arena.
Almost all Gund Arena signage has been removed from the arena in the past few weeks. Sometime before the start of the Cavaliers season, new signs with the new name will go up in place.
And don't bother calling it Quicken Loans Arena. Too much stress on your tongue. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert recommends calling it "The Q." Hip. Fresh. Monosyllabic. Urban, in a very stodgy-white-guys-trying-to-be-cool kind of way.
Whatever you call it, Gilbert just wants you to remember Quicken Loans, his Livonia, Mich.-based Internet loan company. He certainly made a big fuss out changing the name, following a huge company party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a huge re-christening shindig at the arena, featuring the Black-Eyed Peas.
The presence of the Black-Eyed Peas by themselves makes me want to run screaming in the other direction. But I digress.
Feeling corporate enough yet? Gilbert didn't just stop at the name of the arena. For the first time in team history, the Cavs will have a presenting sponsor.
Gilbert's Rock Financial, Quicken Loans' parent company, has been the presenting sponsor for the Pistons for the past few seasons. It has been a rousing success, and Gilbert thought his NBA team should have one, too. This week, the Cavs brokered a deal with Cub Cadet, the lawn tractor company owned by MTD.
So, if you should find yourself on the air, the correct first reference for the Cavs is "Cleveland Cavaliers Presented By Cub Cadet at Quicken Loans Arena." By saying that, you are infusing brand recognition into untold numbers of as-yet-untapped consumers, making a lot of people a lot of money.
Hours and hours of market research went into this, I promise you.
Gilbert is on the cutting edge in Cleveland. Soon, Jacobs Field will fall to the corporate wrecking ball when the naming rights expire after next season.
My money is on National City Bank, a major money-holder which has yet to stick their moniker on a sports facility. MBNA, fronted by Browns owner Randy Lerner, is another possibility. If it isn't "National City/MBNA Field," It will at the very least be "Jacobs Field at National City/MBNA Park," or some convoluted thing like that. Cleveland was one of the last holdouts from corporate names on sports facilities. But for those who take a dim view of having their retinas saturated with corporate logos, the tombstone reads, "Gund Arena 1994-2005." And the stone has a huge Quicken Loans logo underneath.

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