If only we had put our foot down when San Diego sacrificed Jack Murphy Stadium to the dark forces of Qualcomm, and especially when Cleveland capitulated to the smarmy hucksterism of Quicken Loans Arena, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
The annoying scab that had been limited to stadiums and arenas became a full-blown infection in the State formerly known as Texas (because of copyright restrictions, we can only refer to the former state in this way, and will use the acronym SfkaT for simplicity). It was 2018, when, you may recall, the SfkaT hit the wall, narrowly avoiding a Congressional vote to expel it from the U.S., and then filing for bankruptcy.
Years and years of anti-tax politics had virtually emptied the state treasury, and virulent anti-Federal Government sentiment guaranteed that Washington, though reluctant to push it into the arms of Mexican drug lords, would not bail it out.
That was when, in a remarkable development, Mark Zuckerberg purchased the naming rights to the state for a billion dollars and renamed it Facebook (name used with copyright owner’s permission).
Zuckerberg’s move caught the attention of other states, the next of which to get renamed was the Sfka Mississippi, which went for $1,999.99, and is now known as NASCAR (permission, as above).
This second case raised a storm, not just because of the exceptionally high cost relative to the state’s actual value, but because Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee filed suit, objecting that NASCAR’s (the organization’s, not the state’s) copyright restrictions on the former state name unfairly deprived Scripps of the free use of a vital spelling word. (The judge threw the suit out, citing as precedent previous dismissal of a suit brought by America’s elementary school teachers against Scripps for copyrighting the term spelling bee.)
Soon, others jumped on the bandwagon: the Sfka Connecticut (now Aetna), the Sfka Nevada (Caesar’s Palace), the Sfka Arkansas (Tyson’s Chicken Nuggets) (all permissions, as above), and others.
But regional pride and patriotism began to turn against this crass commercialism, in spite of the obvious truth that corporate sponsorship was the only way to pay for new streetlight bulbs and police services.
With an impasse looming, Missouri made the first breakthrough, insisting on retaining its historic name, but willing to sell its license-plate slogan — The Show Me State — to Hollywood, as The Show Me the Money State.
As before, others followed: Idaho and Minnesota made subtle, but immensely profitable, switches, Idaho inserting Ore-Ida in the middle of its Great Potatoes slogan, and Minnesota shortening Land of 10,000 Lakes to a simpler Land o’Lakes.
However, this naming-rights tide also began to ebb, especially in revulsion at Massachusetts’ agreement to add an s to The Spirit of America in exchange for fifty-million bucks from Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and ultimately dried up after New York capitulated to major league baseball arbiters’ bribe, and became The Umpire State.