The name of Pepsi© no longer will adorn the roof of the Indiana State Fair Coliseum. A dispute arose over the amount to be paid for further "sponsorship" of the building. The State Fair Board wanted more money. The plan is to renovate the facility over the next two years.
I do not like governmental entities to accept money to name structures, built with taxpayers’ money, for the function of billboards. I know: as a fan of the Cubs I realize my team plays at Wrigley Field. The ballpark supposedly was named after the then-owner of the team, not as an advertising mechanism.
When I was a kid, we drove from Kokomo nearly every year for the Indiana State Fair. I was afraid to go near the Coliseum. After all, 74 people died on Halloween night during the Holiday on Ice show. I did not understand why the place had exploded. (The copper line that fed propane gas to a popcorn popper under one of the grandstands sprang a leak. The area below the grandstands filled with gas. The gas ignited. The popcorn machines were replaced.) I knew only that the place had exploded and all those people had died.
When I was in college, I saw The Doobie Brother headline a show with Souther Hillman, Furay, and Golden Earring there. The floor was an expanse of dirt. The tickets were cheap—five bucks as I recall—and the Doobies were great.
In Fort Wayne, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum has been renovated and now is considered an architectural gem. To the best of my knowledge, there is no corporate sponsor for the building. I do not favor war, as a general rule. If we are to deploy our military—except in emergency situations such as the attack on Pearl Harbor—we should do so only after the government engages in the procedure outline in the Constitution. That being said, to honor the military personnel to have served this country is a far more appropriate means by which to name a public structure than to sell off the "naming rights" to advertise.
When the first dome was built downtown (Indianapolis did not have an NFL team. I guess they foresaw the line "If you build it, [they] will come" from Field of Dreams), a contest was held to determine the name. The contest, perhaps, was built to ease opposition to construction of a place for which taxes were raised. (The raise only would be temporary, everyone was told. Today we still pay the debt incurred for the construction of that facility.) People chose "Hoosier Dome." Those are the same people who paid a lot more than RCA later shelled out to slap its name up there. Market Square Arena was named after a cultural part of the City. The structure was antiquated, we were told. (I saw the Grateful Dead there.) Were we all proud to have MSA’s replacement named "Conseco Fieldhouse"? Sure, there was the huge bankruptcy reorganization of the building’s namesake, shortly after the building opened. But hey—those things happen n business. And do we not still have the Hilbert Theater downtown? There is a name redolent of business savvy.
I hope the renovated State Fairgrounds Fieldhouse is named just that. If it is to be named after anything or anyone, let us not be cheap. Name the place after a noted historical figure from Indiana. Carole Lombard was a great actress and died, during World War II while raising money for the war effort on a tour to sell bonds. She was from Fort Wayne. They had their chance to name their structure after her. We should avail ourselves of the opportunity.
It pains me to see the Pepsi name on top of the coliseum where I watched 60 people blown up. However, I'm less exercised over naming rights than about the fair board getting ready to spend $40 million to refurb the Coliseum so that concerts can be held there. The place is fine for concerts as it is, having hosted the Beatles, the Four Seasons, the Cranberries, etc. The millions in renovation contracts - I'm sure none of that money will go to the politically-connected.
Mr. Hilbert seems to be hard at work trying to corner the "commercial tanning lotion" market right now. What started as a make-work company for his wife, then a hiding place for his "consulting" work while Conseco crumbled, has now seen an internal take-over by the husband, and the climb towards the top of a segment of the lucrative tanning industry.
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