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Rhoads: Are landmark naming rights really worth the price?



By Mark Rhoads –

Hancock Center We have seen this silly movie before. Nine years after no one paid attention to changing the name of Sears Tower to "Willis" Tower, now the owners of the "John Hancock Center" want to change the name to "875 North Michigan Avenue." 

How many people in recent years have called the home of the White Sox by the names "U.S. Cellular Field" or "Guaranteed Rate Park" instead of the old name of Comiskey Park? 

Even Chicagoans under the age of 20 seldom get any positive advertising impression from new names for long-standing landmarks. If a building was brand new, I could understand that a future landmark could become known by a new original name. 

But old habits die very hard for old landmarks.

Apparently corporate name changers are so desperate for promotion of their name and to feed corporate egos, that they are willing to pay a premium just to have the name mentioned briefly on a TV broadcast.

History is not so easily monetized. But don't be surprised if you soon see someone who wants to change the name of "Chicago" to "United Airlines City." 

Come to think of it, the city could use the money and it puts little value in civic pride, anyway. 


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  1. I for one would be pleased if the City of Chicago eliminated its program of designating its named streets for various individuals with brown “honorary” street designations. Some of those selected for this honor seem to be nonentities who may soon be forgotten.