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Papa John’s touchdowns, KFC slam dunks

Mark Cornelison / MCT

I was told I would cringe after hearing the name of the new basketball arena at the University of Louisville. I didn’t know what to expect, so I promptly clenched my hands and gritted my teeth. Then I learned that the Cardinals would now be playing basketball in the KFC Yum! Center.

That is a far cry from the old venue, Freedom Hall, which had such an inspirational and patriotic sound. I am not calling fried chicken un-American, but it doesn’t strike the same emotions as the word “freedom.”

It is not altogether surprising, however, that Louisville would choose to have a corporate sponsor adorning one of its sports facilities. Its football team already plays its games at Papa John’s Stadium. If the university continues this trend, it might have to invest in bigger seats. But the Louisville faithful are not the only ones who have to deal with this corporate throat-stuffing. Fans across the country are seeing the same things done to their havens.

I will never truly accept the fact that my beloved Cleveland Indians now play at Progressive Field (it’s even hard to type). I have yet to meet an Indians fan who was happy with the name change. To them, and me, it will always be Jacobs Field. Nevertheless, such sponsorship is becoming increasingly common at all professional sports arenas and stadiums.

I’m surprised Ohio State has resisted the temptation of doing the same thing to more of its buildings — though it already boasts the “Safeauto Hospitals Garage” on the Medical Center campus. I will not be so cynical as to say the university is money-hungry — that would be egregious — but I can foresee some forthcoming alterations.

Independence Hall might be the first to change. After all, if KFC can take freedom away from Louisville, then what is stopping it from taking independence away from Columbus?

And that’s not all. Soon, instead of going to McPherson Laboratory, students could go to McDonald’s Laboratory. Denney Hall would become Denny’s Hall. Students could enter the Wall Street Journalism Building, the Fisher Price College of Business and the EA Sports Building. Caldwell Lab would be replaced by Coldwell Banking Lab; Postle would become, simply, Aeropostale. Campbell Hall? Too easy.

It is a shame that OSU demolished Brown Hall two years ago because I could definitely see that building being renamed “What Can Brown Do For U-Haul.”

We would not just attend corporate classroom buildings. We could trade in long, sunny afternoons on the Oval with Frisbee-throwing on the Incredible Edible, albeit Grassy, Egg. Mack Hall, a dorm on south campus, could simply remove the “K” from its name. Bingo!

All of the revenue generated by these sponsors could add to the even bigger pot created by subsequent, and convenient, tuition increases.

However, students must draw the line somewhere, and I think I know where that is. If the university even considers tarnishing the sanctity, tradition and humor of Harry Bolz Hall, I suggest we revolt.

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