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Marjorie Cortez: EnergySolutions Arena? It's a mouthful

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 21 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

This is going to take some getting used to. The Delta Center is no more. Monday afternoon, the 20,000-seat arena in downtown Salt Lake City that is home to the Utah Jazz was renamed EnergySolutions Arena.

It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it?

But nor do a lot of professional sports arenas and centers around the nation. With the advent of naming rights agreements, traditional arena names such as Madison Square Garden have become the exception. This should be no surprise considering we live in a time when people will tattoo — on their foreheads, no less — commercial advertisements, and towns will change their names to that of a commercial entity if the price is right.

As much as some will balk at the EnergySolutions Arena moniker, there are less palatable names out there. Quicken Loans Arena, anyone? Some names are just a mouthful: Try The Palace of Auburn Hills, Continental Airlines Arena or American Airlines Arena. (Whew, I got tired just typing those names.) Then there are arenas named for soft drinks, office supply giants, automakers and various Wall Street and financial services industry corporations.

With Delta Air Lines in difficult financial condition, it was widely thought that the name of Larry H. Miller's arena might be in for a change. By the time this column sees print, the Delta Center will be a goner, covered with temporary EnergySolutions signage. The new naming rights agreement is for 10 years, while "Delta Center" was a fixture for 15 years.

The challenge comes in what Utahns will call the arena for short. Just guessing here, but a lot of Utahns will continue to call the arena the Delta Center. If they're like me, change comes hard. It's not that I have any issues with EnergySolutions. It's just that I have a hard enough time remembering where I've parked my car, let alone that the name of the downtown arena has changed.

Human nature being what it is, we will resort to some sort of shorthand when referring to EnergySolutions Arena. Will it be ES Arena? ESA? Spent Rod Arena? (That would be for spent nuclear rods, not "Hot Rod" Hundley.) Atomic Arena? The Plutonium Center? The Creamer Center (after EnergySolutions president and chief executive officer Steve Creamer)? E-mail me your suggestions.

Utah Jazz President Dennis Haslam, in meeting with the Deseret Morning News editorial board Monday morning, said EnergySolutions and the Utah Jazz are well suited because Miller and Creamer are both hometown boys who have become highly successful entrepreneurs. The Utah Jazz liked the idea of partnering with an international company that is headquartered in Utah.

"We went to the Clive (Tooele County) facility and looked under a lot of rocks," Haslam said of the Jazz's due diligence. "We haven't found anything that bothers us."

Creamer, meanwhile, acknowledges that his company is not in a consumer services industry, so the naming agreement serves a different purpose than it would for discount retailer Target or cell phone giant Verizon. In this case, the naming rights agreements gives EnergySolutions an international platform to better educate Utah, the nation and the world about its waste management solutions, which include the secure disposition of nuclear waste. Besides, the NBA and its star players are conversation starters worldwide, considering 20-25 percent of them are international players.

We can all scoff at that notion, but how many of us, while traveling in this nation, or internationally, have done the same thing? Professional sports are part of business/travel vernacular because they are always a safe topic. They help us avoid the topics that can trip us up, such as politics and religion. What better ambassador for international business than a 10-year association with an NBA team?


Marjorie Cortez, who will probably remember to refer to Salt Lake's downtown multi-use arena as the EnergySolutions Arena in about three years, is a Deseret Morning News editorial writer. E-mail her at marjorie@desnews.com.

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