What’s In A Name?

So today I learned that the new stadium will no longer be called Ivor Wynne but rather Tim Hortons Field. I prefer “real names: over “naming rights” myself. I remember as a kid when Toronto built their iconic stadium. They had a huge community focused contest to name the new building. In the end “Sky Dome” won and that is still what I call the place.

In the grand scheme of things Corporate Naming of Stadiums isn’t so important. It isn’t a huge justice issue. I don’t want to see parks or schools getting into the world of Corporate Naming but I understand why a giant stadium is seeking out every revenue source it can find. I also understand why companies try to align them selves with buildings and events that the wider community cares about.

For me though, I would be more impressed with an organization like Tim Hortons if they paid for the naming rights and then used it to say something about what they value. Imagine…

  • Lincoln Alexander Stadium – We value progress, racial equality, and our history. We believe that every child that pursues an education can go on to do great things.
  • Bernie Faloney Field – We celebrate our sports heroes. We remember all you did on and off the field. When you moved to our city you didn’t just become a Tiger Cat you became a Hamiltonian.
  • Hamilton Community Stadium – We our proud of our roots and we give this stadium back to the community that has supported us for so long with all those double double purchases.
  • Tiger Field – We know why you’re here, it’s the same for us. Go Tiger-Cats Go!

Now when the former stadium was renamed Ivor Wynne in 1970, the city was saying some great things about what they value. There is a nice old article on the Tiger-Cats website called “Who Was Ivor Wynne?”

Reading about the Man named Ivor Wynne gave me some insight into what the City of Hamilton was saying with the choice of Ivor Wynne:

We Value:

  •  Diversity and Newcomers“Wynne immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of six in 1924.”
  • The Core of our City“After initially living in Caledonia for a few years the Wynnes would move to downtown Hamilton in 1928…”
  • Higher Education For Our Children“Ivor would go on to attend elementary school, high school and eventually enroll at McMaster University.” (The Current rate for kids from this same neighbourhood going on to Post Secondary Education is currently very low, what a great role model Ivor is for these kids).
  • Fair Play and Athleticism“After graduating in 1940 and spending time in the Canadian military during the Second World War, Ivor Wynne was named McMaster’s Athletic Director in 1948.  He is credited with expanding the school’s physical education course and spearheading the creation of an athletic centre at the school.”
  • Public Service “In 1967, Wynne was named Chairman of the Parks Board after spending 16 years doing colour commentary for college and professional football on CHCH.”
  • Vision and Commitment“The city sought Wynne’s advice throughout Civic Stadium’s first major renovations in 1970 that would help the iconic building reach modern-day standards.  Sadly Wynne would die suddenly that year of a rare blood disease and never see those renovations completed. Shortly after Wynne’s death in November 1970, the city parks board voted to rename the stadium to honour his contributions to McMaster and the community”

Another building right beside our football field recently went through a rebuild and a renaming process. Prince of Wales Elementary School is the school my kids go to and it was one of the many schools torn down and remade all shiny and new. During this rebuild a couple things happened.

  1. The board thankfully decided to save some of the original architectural details and reincorporate them in the new structure
  2. After a lengthy renaming process and  much public outcry the new school kept the old name.

Why keep a name? The neighbours said “I went to Prince of Wales, I want my kid to also go to Prince of Wales.” They wanted continuity, they wanted history, and they wanted legacy.

I guess my over all point is that names mean something to the community and people value legacy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to keep the stadium in my backyard. I’m excited about the rebuild, and I even drink the occasional Iced Cap. Really, stadium naming rights don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but they also don’t promote community or legacy, and in 20 years time who will pay to put their name on our football field next?

If you had the money, what would you name our Stadium?





Names become part of the community. A

ssue but there are some interesting thoughts about community and purpose when thinking about naming.