Last updated: September 15. 2013 10:51AM - 1929 Views

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Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

In Saturday’s edition of the Daily Times there was an article about the city potentially selling the naming rights to Spartan Municipal Stadium. There was a surpising amount of negative feedback toward the idea.

It’s easy to understand the connection the community has with the historical value of the stadium, but just because the name changes to “SOMC Spartan Stadium” or “AEP Spartan Stadium” doesn’t immediately mean the history of the stadium is lost. The name of the facility was “Universal Stadium” when the first National Football League night game took place within its walls. Now that it is named Spartan Municipal Stadium and the name could change again, does that lessen the fact that a historical event once took place there? The simple answer is no.

Dutch Clark still played in the stadium and the Spartans still had a fantastic home field advantage going 19-2-4 during their tenure in Portsmouth. A new moniker or naming the field of Spartan Stadium doesn’t change those facts.

The Reds played in three World Series in Riverfront Stadium. When it was changed to Cinergy Field, were those games magically erased from history? A new name isn’t going to change history. A name change isn’t a wrecking ball.

It would seem those opposed to the idea are being narrow in their vision of how this could stand to benefit the city, assuming there are parties interested in purchasing the naming rights. Put the sentimental aspects aside and consider the state the stadium is in and the precarious fiscal situation the city is working to fix. If selling the naming rights offers a substantial financial benefit to the city and the stadium while sacrificing the intangible historical sentiment among its fans, I think rational minds would prefer going forward with the idea. Otherwise we can cling to the name Spartan Municipal Stadium while the building crumbles away.

Preserving historical structures is a cause that is easy to get behind and using money brought in from the sale of the naming rights would support that cause. As Councilman Kevin W. Johnson pointed out in the aforementioned article, revenue made from the sale would go back into maintenance of the stadium.

Finding alternative uses for the stadium is also an idea to get behind. Currently the semi-professional football team the Kentucky Warriors and the Notre Dame High School football team utilize the field. It might have already been discussed, but I can see an nearly endless list of uses of the facility for students of Shawnee State. Intramurals, flag football, Ultimate Frisbee, so on. If the university is willing to lease time from the city, it could be another stream of revenue to help the upkeep of a cherished landmark.

Considering and implementing changes that would stand to benefit the city and the stadium shouldn’t be met with immediate skepticism and dismissal. It’s up to our elected officials to find creative solutions to problems and I appreciate Councilman Rich Saddler and the Parks, Recreation, Buildings and Culture Committee for even broaching the subject.

Editor’s Note: For more information on Spartan Municipal Stadium, visit the “Local Features” section at Portsmouth-DailyTimes.com where the article “A proud history” from January of 2012 has been republished. The article highlights the history and legacy of the stadium and Portsmouth’s NFL past.

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Bob on Twitter @rjstrickleyjr.

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