BOCA RATON —Florida Atlantic University students both in favor and opposed to “Owlcatraz” are expected to flock to a meeting with their school president Mary Jane Saunders tomorrow to debate the issue roiling their campus.
A vote by the school’s board of trustees Feb. 19 to accept a $6 million donation from the private prison company GEO Group of Boca Raton, in exchange for the naming rights to the $70 football stadium, has divided campus opinion. The team is called The Owls, hence “Owlcatraz.”
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NAMING RIGHTS REVERSALS
Allianz: In 2008, the New York Giants and Jets football teams ended naming rights negotiations with Allianz, a German-based insurance company with Nazi ties, after widespread negative reaction to the possibility of an Allianz Stadium in the Meadowlands. Allianz still sponsors a senior golf tournament in Boca Raton.
Digital Domain: The New York Mets spring training home was named Digital Domain Field from 2010 until last fall, when Digital Domain filed for bankruptcy protection. The facility is once again known as Tradition Field.
Enron: The Houston Astros signed a 30-year naming deal with Enron in 1999. Two years later Enron went bankrupt in one of the biggest corporate scandals in American history. The ballpark was renamed Minute Maid Park.
Pro Player Park: Joe Robbie Stadium, built in 1987, was renamed Pro Player Park (and later Pro Player Stadium) after a Fruit of the Loom subsidiary. Fruit of the Loom filed for bankruptcy in 1999, but the park kept the Pro Player name until 2005, when it became Dolphins Stadium, then Dolphin Stadium, Land Shark Stadium, and finally Sun Life Stadium.
National Car Rental: The company won naming rights to the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers before the stadium’s opening in 1999, but when National’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in 2002, the name changed to BankAtlantic Center. The name changed again when BankAtlantic was acquired by BB&T last year.
PSINet: The Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Stadium was known as PSINet Stadium from 1999 until 2002, when PSINet, one of the first Internet providers in the country, filed for bankruptcy.
Adelphia: In 1999, Adelphia Communications signed a 15-year deal for naming rights to the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and college football’s Lousiana State University. At the time it was the fifth biggest cable company in the country, but after widespread internal corruption the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002, and the stadium changed its name to LP Field, after Nashville-based Louisiana-Pacific.
CMGI: The NFL’s New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium was CMGI Field for a brief time in 2000, but the tech company dropped it’s 15-year deal for naming rights before the team’s first game in the newly-named stadium after CMGI’s stock plummeted and the expensive stadium sponsorship was one of the first things to go.
SOURCES: The Palm Beach Post and other published reports