Hard Rock Stadium has a nice ring to it.
Sure, there are some who will insist on calling it Joe Robbie Stadium forever, and others queasy over the Miami Dolphins’ partnership with a casino hotel.
At least the naming sponsor is located in South Florida and reflects the flash and the money and the personality of the market better than previous brands like Sun Life (a financial-services company based in Canada) or Pro Player (a name given to a defunct line of Fruit of the Loom sportswear).
The gambling line, meanwhile, has become so blurred that the only taboo everyone agrees on is that fixing games is bad and could burn down the whole sports industry if tolerated.
All other shades of this topic are gray rather than black and white. Casinos have advertised at stadiums for years. The NFL, NBA and MLB are big investors in FanDuel and DraftKings. There’s an NHL franchise headed to Las Vegas in 2017, which might break another logjam. Many other teams have talked about moving to Sin City in the past, including the Marlins, who met with Las Vegas’ mayor in 2004 to prime the pump on getting public money for a new stadium in Miami.
That same year I remember wondering about the mixed message of walking past rows of slot machines at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood to meet Pete Carroll and Bob Stoops out by the hotel pool. They were at the casino for an official Orange Bowl press conference to discuss a national championship game involving their college teams from USC and Oklahoma.
If anybody else was worried about the mixed message, it didn’t come up and the Hard Rock has become a center for sports promotions of all kinds, not just boxing and MMA and such.
Anyway, football fans will have less trouble adopting this newest new name for the stadium where the Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes play. Hard Rock naturally sounds like a loud place, a fun place and it works especially well when concert tours swing by. Millenials will relate to it far better than a stadium with the name of some life insurance company. That’s geezer stuff better suited to Sunday afternoon golf telecasts.
As for the spinoff names and jokes that go with it, I sent out a tweet earlier suggesting that the Dolphins, a playoff team just once in the last 14 years, might find a better fit in a facility called Hard Luck Stadium.
That didn’t get a very good reaction, but this is August, the season of hope in the NFL, and nobody wants to hear that. Nobody likes a smart aleck, either. Right?