The Indianapolis Star reports this morning that later today, at a press conference, Conseco Fieldhouse will be renamed. In the story, reporter Heather Gillers writes, "Conseco Fieldhouse, built by Herb and Mel Simon, opened in 1999 when the Pacers moved from their former home, Market Square Arena."
I did not see photos of Herb and Mel out there on the construction site pouring footers and laying brick. Therefore I must infer that by writing the structure was "built by" Herb and Mel Simon, she means they financed construction of the building. The Simons can be said to have financed construction of the fieldhouse only in the sense that they twisted politicians’ arms (and that was not a difficult task) to write checks drawn on taxpayer money. We, the people, built that fieldhouse. I highly recommend an April 6, 2009, article by fellow blogger and co-host of "Civil Discourse Now" Paul Ogden on the sweetheart deal the Simons received on the now soon-to-be formerly-called Conseco Fieldhouse.
Ms. Gillers only could speculate what the new name will be. Since Conseco went through some changes a few years back and renamed itself "CNO Financial Group," one may reasonably infer the new name will incorporate that corporate moniker. I never particularly cared for an Indianapolis sports structure to be funded by taxpayers. I also did not like how our fieldhouse could be misconstrued as having been named after an Oakland A’s baseball player. However, Jose Conseco arguably was a poster child for steroid use and other performance-enhancing drugs. For that matter, the lineups for the MLB All-Star games circa 1990-2005 could be poster children for PEDs. And Eli Lilly is not far south from the fieldhouse, so, okay, I can live with that. And, as a fan of the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Club, I know my team plays in a ballpark named after a corporation. (Wrigley Field—the gum, get it?) Perhaps I should not complain so much. The Wrigleys have not had control of the team or the ballpark in quite some time. It is a part of Chicago culture and life (as is the 103-year run without a World Series champion).
Please, though, do not give us a generic name for the fieldhouse. "CNO Financial Group" could be anywhere. There is no local flavor to it. It could be named after a famous Hoosier writer: James Whitcomb Riley or, better and more contemporary, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Okay, let’s keep it basketball-specific. How about Oscar Robertson Fieldhouse? He never played for the Pacers, but he was one of the best players in the game and started at Crispus Attucks High School, only a mile or two away. If you don’t like that, how about Bobby Plump Fieldhouse? Or, much as he has sucked in running the Pacers of late, Larry Byrd Fieldhouse?
Maybe I will be proven wrong. Maybe someone will give consideration to local culture. I think it works like this, though. Someone writes a check satisfactorily large for the Simons. After all, the Simons not only got us (the taxpayers) to pay for construction of the building, but they receive all of the revenues from its operation plus about ten mil per year for operating expenses. The hand that writes that check will be the CEO or CFO of CNO. We will have yet one more generically-named, publicly-financed sports facility.
What happens when the Chinese buy up our sports franchises? Now there will be a difficult task. Most Hoosiers do not speak, read or write Chinese, in its various dialects. I guess they’ll just use another acronym.