What’s in a Name?

24 06 2008

Can I remind everyone about the huge uproar that arose last year when a group petitioned to have Town Square Park renamed ‘Ruth Moulton Town Square’?  Ruth Moulton was an incredible citizen activist who organized petition drives, sued the city three times, created a grassroots movement, and eventually had Town Square written into the city charter to keep it from becoming a parking lot.  This took over a decade, and was done for free by a dedicated citizen of Anchorage, so WE could have a park downtown.  But people whined and complained, “Why do we have to NAME everything after people?  Why can’t it just be Town Square Park?”  The Assembly even rewrote the naming ordinance stating that naming things after their location should be preferable to naming them after a person.  And if you must name something after a person, let it be a feature of the whole, rather than the whole itself.  Hence, the new Ruth Moulton Plaza within Town Square Park.

Now, less than a year later, the city of Anchorage is graced with ConocoPhillips Stadium??  That’s what the new Assembly voted  to name the new soccer stadium going up in Kincaid Park. No whining, no endless meetings discussing the appropriateness of naming the whole facility vs. a feature of the facility, and on and on and on like with Town Square.   Not the  ConocoPhillips concession stand within Kincaid Stadium, no distinguished plaque thanking them for their contribution… they got the whole enchilada.  Apparently $500,000 is enough to buy you advertising for the rest of eternity with no controversy whatsoever.  The entire project will cost $10 million, but footing 1/20th of the bill will suffice to have the ConocoPhillips corporate logo branded on the thing in perpetuity so future generations can enjoy it.

Kudos to the two lonely souls who stood up in front of the Assembly and said “bad idea”.  And 1/2 a kudo to Mike Guttierez for suggesting that the naming be reviewed in 15 years, and subject to change if we don’t like it any more, or if we have another oil spill, or if their CEO is convicted of bribing our legislators…you know, stuff like that.  This type of forward thinking would have saved us from the “Ted Stevens International Airport”, don’tcha think?