Newcastle United have announced that their 119 year old home of St. James Park is to be renamed the Sports Direct Arena – Sports Arena being the billion pound retail empire headed up by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.
A move that is causing widespread backlash from Newcastle fans, the change has essentially been carried out to allow fans ‘to get used to’ the idea of a branded stadium. This foreshadows Newcastle’s search for a sponsorship partner for the stadium and the football shirts in what is likely to be a multi-million pound opportunity for numerous brands.
But is it such a bad thing?
Fans will no doubt still refer to it as St. James Park in everyday conversation, whilst the chosen sponsor will still benefit from the use of the official name when referenced by journalists, broadcasters and commentators alike.
Stadium sponsorship is an ever-increasing addition to the world of sport, but for me it isn’t something that should be rejected due to a commitment to tradition. The idea of tradition, particularly in top flight football, has steadily declined following the formation of the Premier League in 1992, and as such the notion of stadium sponsorship should be embraced by fans as it brings much needed additional revenue streams to an industry where tighter financial stipulations is inevitable.
For a previous blog on stadium sponsorship click here.