Naming the Florida Marlins' New Ballpark

Brian ScottCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

MIAMI - APRIL 06:  A Marlin fans shows his support after the Washington Nationals were defeated by the Florida Marlins on opening day at Dolphin Stadium on April 6, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins defeated the Nationals 12-5.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Rumors are a fact of life that nobody can escape; for many, since the dawn of mass media, and particularly since the internet explosion, they are a way of life.

Niche journalists have found astounding popularity when publishing insider information.  Take Perez Hilton, queen of internet gossip, who has found fame in trashing the stars of Hollywood, or Tim Dierkes, founder of mlbtraderumors.com, who was able to leave his regular job to run a website based mainly on professional baseball trade rumors (and other sites).

Lately, in South Florida, the media has been enthralled with stadium news and rumors.  First, it was the debate and vote over the Florida Marlins new stadium, followed by the subsequent outflow of information regarding its construction.  The latest sports headline to captivate the devoted and not-so-devoted fans of professional sports in South Florida is the sponsorship of Dolphin Stadium.

Previously known as Joe Robbie Stadium (and still affectionately referred to as), followed by Pro Player stadium, Dolphin's Stadium, and Dolphin Stadium, JRS is rumored to gain the sponsorship of Land Shark Lager in the near future. 

The home of the Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins, and University of Miami football program soon will don the name of the Jimmy Buffet inspired, In-Bev owned alcohol manufacturer, based in the area, if rumors prove true.

This move affects the Marlins organization in two ways.  Firstly, it takes a major player out off of team president David Samson's short list of potential naming-rights partners.  More important, it could set a precedent in terms of how much those rights are worth in South Florida.  As a proper gossip column, I will focus on the first.

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South Florida is home to only a few companies large enough to foot the bill associated with naming rights.  Many would like to see the Orange Bowl tag still hold in some respects, though this is unlikely with Tropicana already a three hour drive northwest. 

American Airlines is also out of the question, as they are the sponsors of the Miami Heats home, and it is unlikely In-Bev will sponsor a second stadium 25 miles south with another brew.

Assuming the role of David Samson, I have determined the top six targets I would have, as well as some potential names and/or promotions.  They are ranked below, with No. 6 being least likely/favorite, and No. 1 being the sponsor of choice.

No. 6: Norwegian Cruise Lines

Miami is a hot bed of travel and the bill for the stadium is being paid for with hotel bed taxes.  NCL is one of three major players on the Port of Miami, and have a headquarters not too far from the stadium in a high visibility location along the highway. 

Unfortunately, they lack the capital, and most likely the interest to invest.  There are also competing cruise lines that are better fits, that will appear later on this list. 

One feature of the stadium though, with NCL's sponsorship, would be a Houston-esque cruise liner that travels across the Miami Skyline in left field every time a home run is lifted out by the home team.  The name would likely lack creativity, as do their ship names, and would simply feature NCL; most likely Norwegian Cruise Lines Stadium. 

That is no fun.

No. 5: (Insert In-Bev Competitor Here)

With the former Anheuser Busch making a play in S. FLA, a competitor may have to join the fight.  Coors is an option here, though they are already occupied in Colorado, most likely ruling them out.  The same goes for Miller Brewing Company, hurting their chances. 

The largest American owned brewery, Samuel Adams, most likely does not have the capital or cash, and America's Oldest brewery, Yuengling, is based in Pennsylvania and would also have capital issues.

Popular imports could factor in here, such as Corona or Heineken, who have heavy in-roads on Miami Beach.  Likely, neither are an option, and this is nothing more than a competitive bid.  Of course, they could take over the beach section that Budweiser has at Dolphin Stadium, and the roof could be made to look like a giant lime—right?  Most likely not.

No. 4: Bacardi Rums

Though a Puerto Rican company, Bacardi has headquarters situated on Biscayne Boulevard in the design district of Miami, as well as a museum located across the street. 

Needless to say, a large portion of the demographics in the area support the company already, with UM being the No. 1 party school and the Puerto Rican population, never mind a little thing called South Beach.

Bacardi definitely has the money, but do they have the interest?  They are letting a different alcohol company sponsor a stadium in which they have party areas, and they have shown a lack of interest in thoroughly being involved in the community.

But what if?  Bacardi would likely name the stadium with its namesake as well.  However, they have some room for creativity with their diverse liquor offerings.  Bacardi Limon Bowl and Bacardi Orange Bowl are certainly local-pleasing options. 

The stadium could also feature Rum stations (as JRS has), or perhaps Bud Beach, a feature of JRS, could become Bacardi Beach in the outfield.

No. 3: Carnival Cruise Lines

The second of the cruise lines to be featured on the short list, Carnival is also headquartered on the same section of highway as NCL.  Technically the world's largest cruise line, when considering the other brands it owns and operates, CCL definitely has the capital to participate in bidding.

Fortunately for fellow bidders, Carnival is already heavily invested in local sponsorship and promotions, not to mention a performing arts center bearing its namesake in downtown Miami, just off of Route 395 to South Beach. 

A Carnival stadium could also feature the moving ship in left field, and could expand it to have the trademark air horn and smoke stack appear in the stadium.  Also popular on its ships are giant video screens (check in baseball stadiums) and water slides, which Milwaukee shows us are very doable. 

CCL has a history of stealing names from competitor Royal Caribbean, so expect the stadium to do the same—The Oasis and Allure would be to popular options to twist in there.

No. 2: Burger King

The All-American burger joint could certainly be a major player.  The fast food joint would be the first of its kind to sponsor a major stadium, to my knowledge.  Unfortunately, BK is known as the home of the Whopper, and the stadium is set to be a pitchers ballpark.

Burger King is headquartered about five miles from where the stadium is being built and definitely has the capital, so it cannot be discounted.  Having naming rights would also include having restaurant space in the stadium, which could be quite valuable to the company.

A kid's park in the stadium, similar to Coke's in San Francisco, would have to happen.  A children's play area is a token at each restaurant and would be a highlight off the field.  Sandwich the skyline view in left field with buns (burger buns), and you have your quirky stadium highlight.

Won/No. 1: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

As already discussed, cruise lines are perfectly positioned to sponsor this stadium.  RCL, however, is the best positioned.  It is the second largest cruise line in the world in terms of ship count, features the world's largest ships, and the world's most innovative ships.  More importantly, Carnival has beat the crap out of it in terms of local visibility.

Royal Caribbean can make a huge play here, leveraging its relationships with Nickelodeon, MGM, DUBAILAND, Seattle's Best Coffee, and more.  It also would certainly have the funding and the local connections.

Stadium quirks are plentiful for the cruise line, as they can tie them right in with the innovative ideas and firsts feature on the ships.  The air horn and cruise liner in the outfield are just the beginning.  A carousel and zip line will be featured on the new Oasis class ships, and they can liter the outfield here. 

RCL is known for its on board rock climbing walls and ice skating rinks, both possibilities in the stadium complex.  The food court would not be known as such; it would be the Royal Promenade Food Court, and, by the way, what is a cruise vacation without a buffet?

What would you call it, Mr. Sampson wanna-be, you ask?

Little Hialeah of the Seas

The Orange Bowl of the Seas

Ball Park of the Seas

The Stadium of Why Not!

And, in case you were wondering, the CEO has a marketing ploy to answer questions of what pushed him to do it, "Why Not."


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