This post is brought to you by PenguinPoop.
You read that title correctly. Yeah, they went there.
We all get it, hockey is a business. But, this isn’t the team that Mario bought out of bankruptcy in 1999. This team is making money. The team had their billionth (OK, I forget the exact number) consecutive sellout on Saturday night. A couple of amazing players and a few really good seasons, including a Stanley Cup, have turned this franchise profitable. I, along with all other fans, am grateful that we have ownership that is willing to spend those profits to put a winning product on the ice. It’s nice to be able to spend up to the cap and compete with the big markets. But, with the team making money, the brand new arena, and the luxury suites that the team “needed” to generate revenue to compete, I have a question. While more than half of the fans are relegated to the upper stratosphere of the universe in favor of these suites, why are we being subjected to an obscene number of sponsorships?
Remember how obnoxious it was when they started with the Power Ball Power Play? I now yearn for the days when that was pretty much the extent of the sponsored in-game happenings. Who would have thought that I would miss a gate being referred to by a simple number? Having the Civic Arena renamed Mellon Arena seems like such a trivial thing now. The anthem sponsorship that I refer to in the title might have been the thing that pushed me over the edge. Is nothing sacred anymore? Honestly, opening night had a military honor guard and Jeff Jimerson in a tux and then the ghastly announcement of the anthem sponsor.
It is out of control, to put it mildly. In case you haven’t been to the arena or, even worse, to a game yet, here is a sampling of what I could keep track of:
Around the arena:
- Gates: Trib, American Eagle, Verizon
- Clubs: First Niagara, Captain Morgan
- Trib Mezzanine
- Trib Lobby
- Trib All Time Team Zone
- Dick’s Box Office
- Highmark Kid’s Zone
- Highmark Wall of Champions
- PNC Legends Level
- Lexus Club
- Cal U Conference Center
- Heinz countdown clock
- Frontier Steel anthem
- Esmark starting lineup
- Power Ball power play
- GNC penalty kill
- Verizon, PNC Wealth Management replays (it is different every period, I missed the 3rd)
- AEC attendance
- Geico 1st intermission
- First Niagara 2nd intermission
- Miller Lite “Good Call” penalties
- Labatt Out of Town Scoreboard
- Starkist 3 stars
Other stuff during the game:
- WetGo Car Wash Kiss Cam
- Cochran fan of the game
- ATI Zambonis
- Mobili Blimp
- Highmark Ice Crew
- Smith Hot Dog and Shearer’s Chips giveaways
- Dairy Queen Bazooooka Blast
- Big Mac Attack
- GNC runway covers
- Nemacolin Pick 5
- Crunches by Shearers
What’s next, the return to the corporate pigeon logo?
I hated that logo. But, it does seem appropriate given the direction the team is headed. I just don’t understand why we are suddenly having corporate sponsorships shoved down our throats at every given chance. I have always respected the way that Mario ran this team. While it is a business, Mario has always run it as it should be…a first class sports franchise. What has changed? I can only imagine that things will get worse with the increased popularity of the team. Everyone wants to jump on a good bandwagon. How long until IceBurgh is sponsored? When we win our next Cup, will every faceoff be sponsored? What about each different type of penalty? And, where does the league draw the line? At what point does the NHL follow the European leagues and take advantage of blank areas on the players’ jerseys and socks? This just looks like an ugly downward spiral to me. (By the way, even spellcheck hates all of these sponsors.)
Quite honestly, I think it cheapens the organization. We’ve gone from complete class to looking like we’re desperate for money. Maybe that’s the trend. Maybe that’s the way all the other teams are doing things now. I honestly don’t remember it being that bad at any of the away games I’ve gone to over the past few years. Here’s the thing though: I don’t want to be like all of the other teams. Call me crazy, but I liked being different. A lot of things have changed over the past couple of years, particularly the last few months. I’m not entirely thrilled with all of them. I liked when my friends in other cities were jealous of how “fan-friendly” the Pens were. Now, they seem just like any other business. It’s like that flashing neon sign that says “We’re owned by one of the greatest players of all time” has dimmed. If my out-of-town friends come to a game here now, will it seem any different than any other city?
Now that I’ve been subjected to the barrage of sponsors, I’m going to be a little irritated when the Lemieux Group accesses my bank account early next month. I used to just feel fortunate to have tickets when Mario took out my monthly payment. Now I feel like telling them to find a sponsor for my seats. Hey, there’s an idea…
Well, someone let me know when they put a sponsor on the toilet paper so that I can use it to wipe my rear.
A fitting statement from someone who writes for a blog named “PenguinPoop.”
This rant has been sponsored by Coach Bombay.