In the ashes of Jeld Wen Field has arisen Providence Park as though it were a phoenix. Ok, nothing so dramatic – Providence Health has just taken over naming rights to what used to be Jeld Wen Feild/PGE Park/Civic Stadium/Multnomah Field. Sure, a not for profit health care company should focus more on lowering their clientele’s premiums instead of sponsoring a
baseball soccer stadium, but at least Providence Park is a better name than Jeld Wen Field. Still, it will always be Civic Stadium to me. Why? Because that’s what it was for the first 26 years of my life. Secondly, because of the five names the stadium has had, Civic Stadium is the only one that wasn’t about corporate sponsorship. Civic Stadium, while generic in nature, was all about the city itself – not promotion of a corporation or organization.
Regardless, almost all of the names have held some virtue, though some have had more virtue than others. It’s clear that some names are better than others. Let me elaborate from best to worst:
1) Civic Stadium – I already explained this one. Yes, it is generic and boring. In all honesty, the fact that this name is the top choice means that – well, this stadium has not had any truly decent names. Having said that, I again make my point that Civic Stadium represented a stadium of the people, of the city, and of the region. Civic Stadium stood for Portland – not whoever bought the naming rights.
2) Multnomah Field – What, if anything, is wrong with Multnomah field? Well for one thing it was NOT named after the county, but rather named after the Multnomah Athletic Club. Still, we can pretend, even presume that Multnomah field was not about the athletic club that built the original stadium.
3) Providence Park – This is the new name, and to be fair, it roles off the tongue quite nicely. Providence Park gives a picture of a peaceful place where all is good and well and – hey wait a minute, this is a freaking soccer stadium! Timbers and Thorns fans are ANYTHING but peaceful. The Timbers Army motto is “No Pity.” They chant profanities and have been openly criticized by the local media for said chants. They’ve got subgroups under the names 101st Amphibious Assault, The Fighting 106th , and my favorite, the 103rd Ballistic Unit. Yeah – there are a lot of words I would use to describe that group of fans, but provident is far from the top.
4) Jeld Wen Field – The only virtue I could think of on this name is that at least out-of-towners might think this name belonged to an actual person or something – maybe some history was behind this name. Nope – Jeld Wen is a multinational company that makes windows and doors. How boring! But asides from the boring factor, Jeld Wen just doesn’t role off the tongue very easily and it’s not easy to remember. I can imagine one of the aforementioned out-of-towners cruising west on Burnside, looking for “Jed Win” field (and wondering if they’re ever going to be able to make a left turn).
5) PGE Park – There is no virtue in this name. None, nadda, nicht, zilch – so let me focus on the negatives. When the stadium was called PGE Park, I liked to call it Enron’s revenge – because that was about the time of the infamous Enron scandal of 2001. They happened to own PGE at the time, and instead of selling it off – instead decided it would be more fun to pay their debtors with PGE stock. Thanks for treating our utilities with such respect Enron, glad I’m in Pacific Power territory! But I digress. Once more, what was the freaking point of PGE naming a stadium? It isn’t like their subscribers could just go to another company! If you’re in PGE territory, you either use PGE or you have no power. So – let’s pay expensive naming rights to a stadium, and screw our customers because they’re the ones paying for it. Yeah…
While I said Civic Stadium was the best of the five names, I also said it wasn’t the best name. A great name would be something that either meant something to the general population, or at least to the fans that field the stadium seats. A great example of the former was the Rose Garden (now the MODA center, or as I call it now, the M.O.D.O.K. center). The rose Garden, while a little confusing to tourists who wanted to go to the Rose test Gardens, was a symbol of Portland (aka The Rose City). As far as the latter, the Timbers and the Thorns aren’t old enough in their current form to have any retired numbers – but if we do get our own form of David Bekhem, maybe we should name the stadium after that player. But for the sake of all of us, if we’re going to sell naming rights, let’s at least have some standards. I don’t want to go to a concert at the
Arlene Schnitzer American Cyanamid Company Hall.