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Naming rights
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Naming rights

Naming rights as contemplated in this article are the right to name a piece of property, either a tangible property or an event, usually granted in exchange for valuable consideration such as money. Universities and colleges have long given alumni and other major donors the right to name rooms, laboratories, buildings, sports venues, and other facilities, often for themselves or loved ones, in exchange for large contributions, with the general rule being that the larger the contribution, the larger the facility named.

One early place named for a company is Times Square in New York, named for the New York Times newspaper. One of the first sports facilities to be named for a company was Wrigley Field in Chicago in 1926, named for the Wrigley chewing gum company.

The modern era of naming rights in North America is often considered to have begun when the New England Patriots of the National Football League sold the rights to name the stadium that they had constructed in Foxboro, Massachusetts in 1970-71 to the Schaefer brewery. Since then, most large sports venues and several other public buildings have had their naming rights sold, usually for a specific period of years, to corporations seeking to keep their name before the public. Some sports historians cite an earlier beginning. It is claimed by some that the Anheuser-Busch company originally proposed naming the then-new ballpark occupied by the St. Louis Cardinals (which AB owned at the time) in 1966 "Budweiser Stadium" and when this idea was nixed by the Commissioner of Baseball they then proposed the name "Busch Memorial Stadium" (now "Busch Stadium") after one of the company's founders, which was readily approved, and then immediately afterward came out with a product named "Busch Bavarian Beer" (now simply "Busch Beer").

The results of this development seem to have been mixed. Naming rights sold to new venues before they have ever opened have largely been quite successful, as the public has no previous name by which to refer to the venue, i.e., Coors Field in Denver. However, selling the naming rights to an already-existing venue has been somewhat less successful, as in the attempt to rename Candlestick Park in San Francisco to 3Com Park. The general public, and some media outlets, continued to call the facility what it had been known as for over three decades, and the attempt was soon abandonned.