Commentary Corporations get foothold in SEC fields

Look at this list, football fans, and see if anything doesn’t look quite right.

Bryant Denny Stadium. Neyland Stadium. Tiger Stadium. Sanford Stadium. Jordan Hare Stadium. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Kroger Field.

Some places conjure images of tailgating and cheering at historic football meccas. The other conjures an image of going to the grocery store and picking up a gallon of milk and some detergent.

That would be the Kentucky section. The Wildcats just cleaned up to the tune of $1.85 million a year. That’s what Kroger will pay the school (actually, the school’s media rights partner) to have its name on the football stadium.

A moment of silence, please, for Commonwealth Stadium, 1973 2017.

I’m not here to say shame on those greedy Wildcats, selling their name for 40 pieces of silver. That battle was lost about 100 Bright House Networks Stadiums ago.

Full disclosure: I would gladly change my name to Domino’s Pizza Whitley for 1/10 what Kentucky is getting. It’s just worth noting that Monday’s announcement was an SEC first.

The 13 other schools have resisted whatever overtures they’ve received to plaster a company’s name on their football stadiums. Now that Kentucky’s broken the corporate ice, you can’t help but fear others will follow.

That prospect is sadder than most of these stories go. Maybe it’s the memories that the current names evoke.

I just can’t picture telling my grandkids about LSU’s Billy Cannon’s epic Halloween night run at Dow Chemical Stadium in Baton Rouge or freshman phenom Herschel Walker running over Billy Ray Bates at AutoZone Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Let the marketing suits have the NFL and Major League Baseball and Boston, oops, I mean TD Garden. Fall Saturdays in the South are not sacred, but they are different from the usual spreadsheet world of sports.

The good news is most SEC stadium names will be harder to change than your garden variety Joe Robbie Stadium (turned Pro Player Park turned Pro Player Stadium turned Dolphins Stadium turned Dolphin Stadium turned Land Shark Stadium turned Sun Life Stadium turned Hard Rock Stadium).

It’s hard to imagine Alabama fans would sit idly by as Bear Bryant’s name cheap jerseys is removed from the stadium in favor of an insurance company, unless it’s Saban Life Casualty.

Hopefully enough Tennessee fans under age 30 have learned about Gen. Bob Neyland to keep the corporate name raiders off the premises for another few generations.

Commonwealth Stadium had a nice ring to it, but it wasn’t named after a Kentucky football legend.

I would make a joke about there being no Kentucky football legends to name it after, but that would be a cheap shot, and at $1.85 million a year it’s obvious Kentucky doesn’t come cheap.

Then again, if the Wildcats are worth that to a corporation, what would Georgia or Auburn or Arkansas be worth?

I don’t want to think about it. The thought of telling my grandkids about the night Florida beat LSU in quintuple overtime at famed Office Depot Stadium is too depressing.

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