Friday, October 18, 2002

I am tired of public places changing their name to accomodate the latest corporate sponsor. I understand that arts centres, sports facilities and libraries are terribly underfunded and that corporate donation is one of the few ways that they can stay economically viable, but unless you frequent some of these places, you'll have a heck of a time keeping up with what is where.

In the short, short time that I have been in Cowtown, the following public buildings have dissappeared from public record:I'm seeing it happen all over. I know that the renaming doesn't last forever - our local hockey stadium has changed names three times in as many years. When people look back through history books and see the freshly renamed edifices, is this going to leave them wondering what place is being referred to? As it is, I presently have a heck of a time figuring out which place sportscasters and evening news anchors are talking about when they toss out some newly coined name. I find myself asking, "Is that in Calgary?"

The first time I remember this happening was in Edmonton. One of the nicest and most promenent parks was officially opened twenty years prior as Mayfair Park. I knew it was Mayfair Park. My parents knew it from their youth as the same. City council (in their wisdom) decided to rename the park I referred to after a former mayor who resigned from office amidst scandal and was sued by the city for several illegal land deals. Ten or so years after his death, the sour taste he left in Edmontonians' mouths was forgotten by our beloved city council. To this day, I bristle at the renaming of that park for a criminal. I wonder if the managers and employees at Enron Field in Houston feel the same way.

So you want an alternative to renaming? Corporate donators (or benefactors) should put up a big, god-awful sign at the entrance to the place that they are sponsoring. They could have an etched-into-brass picture of the CEO doing a grin-and-grab, handing over a cheque that will see the facility or park through the next 5, 10 or 20 years. They can have a 3D logo popping out from the sign, with verbage beneath proclaiming their greatness and altruistic contribution to the world. Other leaders of the corporate world could then stop and tip their had to their cronies as they enter and exit the place. Regular guys (like me) would lock our bikes to it and vandals could spray-paint their designs on it as a testament to how permanent we felt it was. The monument could remain in place until the next guy comes and ups the ante on the sign spot.

The rest of us could just pass by the big sign on our way into what we know is just a place built for us, by our elected civil government, put in place with our tax dollars. At least when we get old and forgetful, we would still have a fair chance at referring to our landmarks by their proper names.

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