NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why Does Pro Sports Balk at Corporate Underwriting?

August 1, 2001

Judging by its actions, the National Basketball Association would rather have taxpayers pony up subsidies for new stadiums than take money from willing corporate sources.

  • For example, the new NBA franchise in Memphis wants to spend the public's money to build a new $250 million arena -- a move a Tennessee judge has now derailed.
  • FedEx reportedly offered to pay as much as $120 million to call the team the Memphis Express and fit out the players in its distinctive orange and purple colors.
  • The NBA turned the offer down because -- like the other three major sports leagues -- it has an unofficial policy against corporate team names.

But the corporate-team concept is widely accepted in other countries. There is Japanese baseball's Nippon Ham Fighters, for example, who don't even include the home city in their name.

Critics say that as pro sports has already sold practically everything else, it makes little sense to stop at team names. Is spending taxpayers' money, they ask, any less odious?

Source: John Solomon, "Sell Team Names to Corporations," USA Today, July 30, 2001.


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