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Thursday, September 7, 2006

KielCenter Acquires YetAnother FunnyName

Did ScotTrade champion the 1923 bond issue? Did Savvis use his stature to endorse much-needed reform to the government structure of St. Louis?

Of course not. These are accomplishments of Henry Kiel, Republican mayor of St. Louis from 1913 until 1925. The eponymous Kiel Opera House and Auditorium, built in 1934, has stood diminished in both building and name for years now. The city wrecked the auditorium section of the building in 1991 to build the new Kiel Center hockey arena, and the leaseholders of the arena soon sought to lease naming rights. The creepy-sounding Savvis purchased the name in 2000, and the compound-named ScottTrade just purchased the name and is calling the arena "ScottTrade Center." When Savvis purchased the name, Bi-State Development Agency had to rename the Kiel Center MetroLink station "Civic Center Station."

Perhaps if the company names that have appeared on the arena were less ridiculous than "Savvis" and "ScottTrade," I would believe that the arena bore a respectable name. As it is, I am embarrassed to think that my city would have the name "ScottTrade" on a building that is technically a public building and that once was named for one of the best St. Louis mayors ever.

Of course, the name sale generates revenue for the owners of the arena lease, who in turn can generate sales tax revenue for the city government and economic activity. But should the name of a public place ever be available for purchase? While some fees are generated, the purchaser of naming rights is using a building belonging to the public to support a perpetual and prominent advertisement. The gains to ScottTrade upon the new name are far greater than any to the general public -- and that's an arrangement that runs counter to the legacy of Henry Kiel, who oversaw the largest public works effort in the city's history. How ironic that his name would be stamped out for the clumsy, generic corporate moniker ScottTrade.


Anonymous said...

What is it with sports venue names and extra consonants?


Only the Rams showed restraint: their name sponsor, Edward [D] Jones, formally dropped a consonant.


Doug Duckworth said...

In an era where public works such as highways are up for grabs, this is nothing new.

In "fend for yourself" federalism, Cities and States are in fiscal crisis.

Selling public property to private entities generates a lot of cash.

Its too bad other solutions are not first explored.

Wow, isn't this why we are selling a section of Forest Park to BJC?

Wouldn't a better solution be to charge a fee for those who do not pay taxes to Forest Park? Couldn't we increase the prices of Zoo parking thus encouraging those who live in St. Louis to take bus routes like Hampton 90, while receiving extra revenue from those who do not live in the taxing district? I would rather see some type of fee for the usage of the Zoo, the Museums, etc., as opposed to the alternative: selling sections of our park to pay for its maintenance.

"Although the Zoo, Art Museum and Science Center (formerly the McDonnell Planetarium) were once City of St. Louis-operated, today they are each independent entities, financed by property taxes levied through the ZMD. Thanks to these property tax levies, all these institutions except the Missouri Botanical Garden are FREE to all visitors"

Yes they are FREE (nice) to all visitors, and this is a great regional asset, yet something must be done besides selling Forest Park. Either increase the property tax or get some fees in place. Selling piecemeal sections of Forest Park is not a solution!

Anonymous said...

I'll repeat my quote from LJ here:

Since naming rights are a depressingly obligatory part of the professional sports world, I guess the best thing to be said here is that Scottrade is a local company.

Anonymous said...

Like it or not, that's how (part) of the game is played these days.

I can go back and check, but just off the top of my head, all but a handful of NHL arenas have some sort of corporate name. I'd say a good three-quarters of all the stadiums/arenas used in the four majors (NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB) have a corporate name.

And that's not even throwing in the names in colleges and even high schools, for cryin' out loud (just look at the naming deal at Clayton High).

At least a couple of NFL owners publicly vowed to buck the trend for their stadiums. The Lerner family (Cleveland Browns) and Brown family (Cincinnati Bengals) both have vowed their stadiums will NEVER have a corporate name as long as they own their teams. That's why it's still Cleveland Browns Stadium and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.