It's About the Game And Not The Names

added 2/17/2002 by Gene Elston
It's like a waft of fresh spring air, to traditionalists like me, to hear as the baseball season returns, the names: Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Busch Stadium, Fenway Park, Comiskey Park, Yankee Stadium and Skydome.

Even now, our remembrances drift back to the formulative years of this great game, back to the thoughts of other long-gone playgrounds: Polo Grounds, Baker Bowl, Crosley Field, Tiger Stadium, Braves Field, Shibe Park, Ebbets Field, Connie Mack Stadium, Cleveland Stadium and League Park.

Meanwhile, some of the most recent names have been obliterated from the national scene, some destroyed, while others still stand as silent monuments to days gone by, shoved along with their historic names and deathly silence that once upon a time heard the roar of the crowds and the sounds of the game. For baseball has lost: Three Rivers Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, Candlestick Park, Astrodome, Tiger Stadium, The Kingdome and County Stadium.

Some current stadiums have new names, while some of the new modern edifices have been labeled with something new, something completely foreign to the game of baseball. For example: Edison International Field, Comerica Park, Network Associates Coliseum, Safeco Field, Tropicana Field, Bank One BallPark, Cinergy Field, Coors Field, PNC Park at Northshore, Qualcomm Stadium, Pacific Bell Park, Miller Park, and Enron Field.

17 of the 30 franchises are still holding out in the naming rights game. The Astros, I hope, will have a change of heart and join the 17. In the meantime, I do believe, the Astros should honor the remaining seven months of their contract with Enron. Some in the Astros organization believe the association has hurt their image and their ticket sells will decrease, that some people are under the mistaken idea that Enron owns a piece of the ballclub. It does not. The eventual decision on naming rights is now in the hands of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. We all know ballpark names do not win or lose games, nor in any way hinder ticket sales. Baseball fans will always be there.

When this decision is made, I would hope Houston will have a baseball stadium named, not for dollars and cents, but a name that will endure a long time, a name that blends in with the history of Houston. My suggestion is UNION STATION without the superfluous (the ballpark at). In baseball history no ballpark has ever been referred to as a station--but look at excerpts from the dictionary: "the building connected with a stopping place - a post for sphere of duty or occupation - a place of specialized observation - a place established to provide a public service."

Not a Park, Stadium, Field or Grounds -- nor corporate name.

Gene Elston
Feb. 16, 2002

Reprinted with permission from the E-Z Board Astros Forum

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