The Dolphins' Stadium Will Have a New Name Next Season, but Are Sponsors Cursed?
Photo by Laine Doss
The Miami Dolphins' stadium is currently nameless. The deal with Canadian-based Sun Life Financial Inc. ran out last month, so the era of calling it "Sun Life Stadium" is over. It was the park's seventh appellation in less than 30 years. According to the Miami Herald, the Dolphins expect to have a new naming sponsor by next season.
Let's hope the new sponsor can escape the curse of the stadium's previous namesakes.
The place was originally opened as Job Robbie Stadium, named for the owner of both the team and stadium at the time. It remained that way for nine seasons, but after Wayne Huizenga bought the team in the '90s, he began shopping around its naming rights.
Pro Player eventually took the bait in 1996. The stadium was known as Pro Player Park for a season and then Pro Player Stadium for several more.
Sun Life Stadium
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Pro Player was the upstart sports-apparel division of tighty-whities manufacturer Fruit of the Loom. Three years after buying the naming rights, Fruit of the Loom fell into bankruptcy, and in 2001, the Pro Player brand was liquidated.
But the place was known as Pro Player Stadium for four years after the brand ceased to exist.
The nomenclature became "Dolphins Stadium" for about a year, before dropping the "s" and becoming the singular "Dolphin Stadium" for another three.
In 2010, Sun Life Financial Inc. bought the naming rights. Though one of the largest life insurance companies in the world, the name was unknown to most Americans. That's because the firm operated mostly in Canada.
Following the financial crisis, Sun Life saw a chance to expand to America. The company ran several ads pointing out it didn't take bailout money and poking fun at the idea of buying corporate naming rights.
"Sooner or later, you'll know our name," was the ad's tagline.
Turns out, most Americans would not know that name. In 2012, Sun Life exited the annuity business in the States and went back to dominating in Canada.
The naming rights agreement, however, stuck around for four more years.
So almost every company that has dared to pay to have its name slapped on the Miami Gardens sports park has had a bad run.
The lone exception is Jimmy Buffett's beer. Yeah, remember that single season when the place was known as LandShark Stadium? LandShark Lager is still bottled and distributed nationally by Anheuser-Busch, so perhaps buying naming rights to the place is not a guaranteed curse.
It's likely, though, that another corporation will take the chance. The stadium is undergoing massive renovations and is expected to be rewarded with a Super Bowl in the near future.