In recent decades, major sports teams have been selling naming rights to their stadiums. San Francisco’s historic Candlestick Park was renamed 3-Com Stadium, the Arizona Diamondbacks play in Bank One Ballpark, and Heinz Stadium is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bowl games sell corporate sponsorships (i.e.: the 96th Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi or the Valero Energy Alamo Bowl) and although they often turn event names into lengthy, tongue-twisting titles, the sponsorships also provide much needed revenue. It is precisely this revenue source that prompted officials in New York City to consider selling naming rights to some very unconventional facilities.
Faced with a massive $2 billion deficit, New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority began searching for corporate sponsors for – of all things – the city’s subway stops. For five years the MTA offered corporate naming rights to the underground but there were no takers – until now. If the $4 million deal is approved, Barclays Bank will be added to the already lengthy named Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street and Flatbush Avenue subway stop in downtown Brooklyn. Although in this case the sponsorship may make sense (the subway stop will serve Barclays Center, a new sports arena scheduled to open in 2012), it certainly begs the question of whether traveling around NYC will still have that authentic New York flavor when conductors find themselves announcing “McDonald’s Big Mac Lincoln Center,” or “Yahoo! Rockefeller Center.” If all this is approved, it may soon be much more difficult to find your way around on public transportation in New York City.