Stadiumgate Issues Keep Coming Up

The Ravens have this notion floating around that they can't rename their stadium in John Unitas' honor because they need corporate backing to field a competitive team. They absolutely need a cool $175 million from Starbucks or Sunkist or Papa John's to re-sign their players, draft picks and sign free-agents.

And along the way, their spin control message picked up some gullible backers. After listening to a certain radio talk show host of an all sports station yesterday afternoon, you would have thought that the Ravens couldn't field a team without the money.  


Another sports radio host on a certain weekly night time show suggested that if the fans wanted the name so badly, they better not complain about the Ravens staying shy during the free agency period. I mean, what players could you sign without a corporate sponsor paying you tons of cash?


Well, somehow, the Green Bay Packers were able to lure Pro Bowl defensive end Joe Johnson off the market this past off-season. The N.Y. Giants and N.Y. Jets shelled out big money to keep Michael Strahan, Kerry Collins, Shaun Williams, Vinny Testeverde, Curtis Martin and Kevin Mawae on their respective teams for years to come.


Also, last time I checked, the Dolphins did okay when they picked up that Ricky Williams fellow this year, and made Jason Taylor the highest paid defensive end in football a couple of years ago. Three of these teams made the playoffs last year, while the one that didn't,(the Giants) made the Super Bowl the year before.


And then there is also Seattle and Chicago, who are doing just fine as players on the open market.


But there is a flip side to this as well. Nobody says that the Ravens can't get some company to accept a deal where they wouldn't have the Unitas name completely plastered as the stadium moniker. 


The Denver Broncos fans made up a petition to help keep the Mile High part of the old stadium's name and incorporate that with the new stadium's sponsor, Invesco. What you got was Mile High Stadium at Invesco Field as the new mark. The Broncos received less compensation by compromising on the name, but they were still paid profusely.  

Another compromise would have the Ravens keeping the Unitas name altogether, yet selling the naming rights in certain areas of the stadium.


Cleveland Browns' owner Al Lerner decided to use corporate sponsorship to just name the four gates of the stadium. Browns fans now enter each corner of Cleveland Browns Stadium through the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Gate, the National City Gate, Steris Gate or the First Energy Gate. According to the Baltimore Sun, Lerner still pocketed nearly two-thirds the compensation he would have received from a naming sponsor.


As of today, thanks to giving out huge contracts to quarterback Tim Couch, defensive end Courtney Brown and defensive tackle Gerard Warren, just to name a few, the Browns still had a team payroll that ranked among the top five in the entire NFL.


If these other teams were able to make concessions to keep the names they wanted, the Ravens can certainly do the same, despite losing some cash in the process. It's just a matter of if they want to do this.


And if the Ravens end up selling out for the big money deal they should receive by selling the name of the stadium, the fans would ultimately understand the decision. But enough with the lame excuses that not naming the stadium after No.19 would affect the Ravens ability to reimburse their own players and to sign others off the market.


Somebody in the organization should have the gumption to admit that this stadium resolution will be all about the benjamins.

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