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Naples Daily News (Florida)
You've heard the old joke, retold annually around the Chinese New Year.
A few weeks after the cycle changes to the Year of the Dog, the jokester proclaims, "I'm still writing Year of the Rooster on my checks."
It goes to how once we get in a habit, it's hard to break.
Which comes to mind upon hearing the news that Germain Arena in Estero will soon change its name to Hertz Arena in a naming rights deal between the rental car giant and the Florida Everblades.
Companies around the world pay millions of dollars to attach their names to arenas and stadiums for professional sports teams at all levels.
The practice is filtering down to the amateur level as well.
Just this summer, Lee Health purchased the naming rights for the multi-sports stadium at the new Bonita Springs High School for five years for $292,000.
Three-year naming rights to the Estero High School field went for $32,688 to FAST AC. The stadium already is named in honor of former cross country coach and athletic director Jeff Sommer, so home games at Estero will be played on FAST AC Field at Jeff Sommer Stadium. Why do I get the feeling most people will just say, "The game's at Estero."
Naming rights are on the auction block for Collier County's new sports complex to be built along Collier Boulevard near Interstate 75. County commissioners expect to see a report on the potential value of the rights in October.
Companies wouldn't pour money into these deals if they didn't see a benefit, but with so many stadiums and so many deals, one is left to wonder if it's worth it.
Which brings us back to the Year of the Rooster.
Remember the Philharmonic Center in Naples? We all used to call it The Phil. Many still call it The Phil even though it was renamed Artis-Naples in 2013.
There are people who still call the Everblades' home ice TECO Arena, its name from 1999 until 2004, when Germain came into the picture.
If you look hard enough, you'll find some holdovers who still say Everblades Arena, the original name of the place.
So, how long will it take before people get used to saying Hertz?
The fact that Hertz sounds like hurts and we're talking about a hockey arena might make the transition easier.
And then there's the proposed color scheme. The corporate yellow is bound to stand out from Estero's staid Mediterranean tones. Hertz Your Eyes Arena has a ring to it.
Neither Hertz nor Everblades President Craig Brush would disclose the price of the naming rights. Regardless, to maximize their investment and speed up acceptance of the new name, Hertz will want to create as many tie-ins and partnerships as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, Hertz executives rang the closing bell on Wall Street in observance of the company's 100th anniversary. If they were smart, they would have started the cross promotion right away. Instead of the traditional bell, they should have used one of the ubiquitous cowbells on sale at the Germain - make that Hertz - gift shop.
Hertz is mainly known for renting cars. With an ice arena in its marketing mix, how about renting Zambonis too. Who hasn't wanted to drive around on one of those?
Occasionally, the arena hosts a monster truck rally. Hertz could take it one step further and host a demolition derby of used cars being retired from the rental fleet.
The company's most famous, and infamous, spokesman was O.J. Simpson, iconically running through airports and flying into cars in the 1970s. O.J. reportedly has flirted with the idea of moving to Southwest Florida from Nevada, where he is on probation. If he does, O.J. Night at Hertz Arena would be a natural.
Just like our funny friend who has difficulty adjusting to the Year of the Dog, Southwest Florida will take a while to get used to the name Hertz Arena.
There are bound to be mistakes and near misses as people grow accustomed to the change. We'll try to remember Hertz Arena, but it might not always come out right.
The company should not be surprised if at first people get it wrong. It even mentioned it in an ad campaign. "There's Hertz. And there's not exactly."
Connect with Brent Batten at email@example.com, on Twitter @NDN_BrentBatten and at facebook.com/ndnbrentbatten.
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