The Utah Jazz have been getting plenty of national publicity the past week for two reasons: the team's unexpected, NBA-best start, and the name change of the arena formerly known as the Delta Center.

As you might expect, the Jazz have been praised for their inspired play on the court and rash of come-from-behind victories. The arena's name change, however, is a totally different matter.

Let's just say that the EnergySolutions Arena name hasn't been portrayed with a positive (radioactive) glow.

"Now, when you think of nuclear waste, you think of the Jazz," joked Tony Mejia of cbssportsline.com.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News wrote this:

"I've gotten used to arenas named for airline giants or communications conglomerates. I've even accepted the occasional brokerage house or banking firm. But I draw the line at radioactive waste.

EnergySolutions Arena is the new home of the Utah Jazz. The solution the company offers is to dispose of low-level radioactive and hazardous waste in nearby Tooele County. Its services aren't restricted to Utah. The company dumps waste from other states as well, which has environmental groups crying foul. And you thought that glow around the Jazz these days came from the team's fast start.

What's next, Greenhouse Gas Arena? Why not the Imodium Center, where fans do that upset stomach, diarrhea dance when their team is behind? Isn't that what the NBA means by synergy?"

And this one is from Joel Brigham of Hoopsworld.com:

"For those unfamiliar with EnergySolutions, it's a nuclear waste services company out of Salt Lake City. Yes, the prestigious naming rights to the NBA's hottest team isn't just garbage; it's radioactive garbage.

Thus marks a new era of ridiculousness in the naming of professional sports venues, even though company-sponsored arena titles have been turning traditionally classic names into laughable commercial hooey for years....

That's the inevitable future of arena names. Cities like Salt Lake will just have to deal with one of the largest and most famous buildings in town being named after a company that handles material capable of producing fish with twelve fins. I'm not trying to say that EnergySolutions doesn't handle its product carefully; I'm just suggesting that NBA teams do so with theirs.

Otherwise, it won't be long before we see Tampax Stadium, Depends Arena, and the Beanie Baby Center.

It's all about money, and we know that, but arena names should have some class, some prominence, and a little proud boastfulness to them... . Energy Solutions Arena. A name like that is just a waste. A tremendous, bio-hazardous waste."

Locally there have been some critical letters to the editor and general groaning about the new name of the Delta Center. But for the most part, it seems, Jazz fans have just shrugged their shoulders with indifference. Sure a different, more respectable name would have been nice, fans seem to figure, but team owner Larry H. Miller simply did what he needed to do to make some money and keep the Jazz in the state.

And it certainly doesn't hurt the Jazz's public relations battle for acceptance of the new arena name when the team is playing incredible basketball.

After all, for most fans, it doesn't really matter what name is on the building as long as the team wins inside.

Besides, old habits die hard. Most Utahns will still be calling it the Delta Center for years to come anyway.


E-mail: [email protected]