Typically, college arenas have traditional, dignified names. Names that inspire nostalgia, that harken back to an age before sports became the bloated, commercialized and thoroughly awesome enterprise we now know and love. The Palestra. Assembly Hall. Hinkle Fieldhouse. Cameron Indoor Stadium. Freedom Hall. Freedom Hall. That must be the greatest college arena name of all-time. Freedom Hall.
Naturally, Freedom Hall is gone now. In its place? The KFC Yum! Center. I rest my case.
It remains to be seen whether more and more college hoops arenas will go the way of pro stadiums -- where commercial sponsorship is practically a must -- but at least one school is hopping on the money-making trend. That school is Rutgers, which is looking to sell the naming rights to its newly-renovated football stadium and to the Rutgers Athletic Center, home of Scarlet Knights hoops. The school has hired Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, an affiliate of the New Jersey Nets, as well as IMG College, a division of ubiquitous entertainment agency IMG World, to find a naming partner.
If I'm a Rutgers fan, I'm slightly perturbed. Sure, the Rutgers Athletic Center doesn't have much brand equity of its own. A cultural landmark isn't at stake. But at least it's not called the KFC Yum! Center. It's something.
Though, to be fair, if signing a deal with a major fast-food conglomerate means you get to have delicious tacos, mashed potatoes, and a sandwich that uses two pieces of fried chicken as a bun for sale inside your arena, who am I to criticize? Hopefully Rutgers finds a similarly delicious solution.