If you still have trouble calling Gillette Stadium anything other than Foxboro, you may have wondered where the convention of renaming sporting institutions after corporations originally came from. The answer: although some New Englanders cling to the belief that the naming of Fenway Park at its opening in 1912 was connected to the promotional support it would give to part-owner John Irving Taylor’s Fenway Realty Company, it is more widely believed that the precursor to today’s naming-rights deals occurred in 1926 when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs at the time, named the team’s stadium Wrigley Field. In the modern era, Portlanders hoping for a return to the title Foxboro Stadium are going to have to wait until the 2032 season to have a chance for that to happen (so start lobbying now).
In any case, hundreds of millions of dollars have been earned by sports franchises in naming-rights deals. The Portland Expo Building has not fallen prey just yet, but the minor league of the NBA, as of this year, has accepted the moniker of the NBA Gatorade League, affectionately known as the ‘G-League.’
However this sits with you, the strength, speed and agility of the players of the Maine Red Claws and the other 25 teams in the G-League remains undiminished. See them play twice this weekend, both times at the Portland Expo (239 Park Ave), first on opening day, Friday, November 3, at 7 p.m. against the Delaware 87ers (named for Delaware’s being the first state to ratify the Constitution in 1787), and again on Sunday, November 5 at 1 p.m. against the Erie Bayhawks. Tickets, of course, vary in price according to the view of the game the seats afford, but all can be purchased at http://gleague.nba.com/tickets/.
How are the ‘Claws looking this season? We finished 4th in the Eastern G-League (then Development League) standings last season, with a record of 29 wins and 21 losses. There is reason to hope for as good or better, though momentum has been a sticking point, with streaks of multiple victories unheard of last year. With the assignment of Boston Celtic Marcus Morris and the addition of second-round NBA draft pick Jabari Bird to the Red Claws, the overall outlook is good, going in. Hey, get season tickets and help set them on fire.
Even if by Christmas, you’re going to games at the Coffee By Design Expo.