In the town where I grew up, there’s a square white building right off the highway exit, where my parents have kept their money for over 40 years. It’s a bank. I have no idea what it’s called. It has had over 40 names in the past 40 years, or at least it seems that way. When something keeps changing its name, you forget it even has a name.
Speaking of banks. You know, don’t you, that there’s at least a chance that our stadium is not going to end up being called Citifield? Citibank says that it isn’t reconsidering the naming deal and various people have been saying that they can’t get out of the naming deal (yeah right). But if the political pressure keeps up, I suspect it’s going to have to. But even if Citifield doesn’t want to back out of the deal there are other reasons why we may never see a Citifield.
First of all, Citibank might have to change its name because it will have to merge or be acquired to survive. If Citibank is no longer Citibank, Citifield can no longer be Citifield.
And then, even if Citibank continues to be Citibank, if it pays $400 million dollars for twenty years for naming rights to a stadium while it’s laying off tens of thousands of people and receiving tens of billions of taxpayer money in a bailout, isn’t there a possibility that all this might begin to look bad? Isn’t it some kind of rule of advertizing that if an ad starts to make you look bad, it disappears immediately? Since when are companies loyal to any public relations expenditure that doesn’t, on balance, get them new business?
And then there’s the Mets. If Citibank starts looking like some mismanaged, bloated, extravagant company that put too much money into shaky investments, if Citibank crashes and burns even though everyone once thought they were really formidable, are the Mets really going to want to be so publicly associated with them?
I’m just saying. There may never be a Citifield, and even if there is, it may not last. Look at all the stadiums and civic centers that have gone through a whole bunch of names. How do you feel about names that don’t even promise to be around for a few years? Doesn’t it change your whole conception of something if it can’t be fixed with a name? What if the universe consisted of such things?
A place that is going to be a repository of memories should at least have a name as fixed and solid and lasting as the place itself. I accept, with scornful practicality, that the name can be something some board of shareholders pays for. But something that doesn’t have a lasting name doesn’t have a lasting anchor in our mind. It becomes something unlike our towns, states, countries, selves, lovers, or friends. It becomes harder to remember and harder to love or enjoy.