Ameriquest Field is no more.
In a surprise move on Monday afternoon, the Texas Rangers announced that they had ended their relationship with Ameriquest Mortgage, canceling the naming rights deal that had been in effect since May 7th, 2004. The club also announced that the stadium would be renamed to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, effective immediately. Not surprisingly, the news has created quite a stir among Rangers fans.
Tom Hicks and team president Jeff Cogen said the reason for the change was to help further promote the Rangers' brand. It's a nice sentiment, and shows that perhaps Hicks is beginning to realize just how valuable the fans are to the team's success.
Of course, Hicks probably wouldn't have okayed the buyout of the 30 year, $75 million deal unless he could recoup some of the lost profit - and apparently he will, as the Dallas Morning News reports the Rangers hope to earn $1 million to $1.5 million per year by reselling the signage that formerly belonged to Ameriquest under the deal. $2.5 million per year was widely regarded by Rangers fans as way too little money for Texas to sign over the rights to the sacred Ballpark in the first place.
The Rangers are already working on removing the various Ameriquest advertisements around the stadium, and will also remove the bell from Section 201. I won't miss the bell, but I will admit that the bells chiming after a Rangers home win had sort of grown on me. They especially added a certain dramatic effect to that one game that we'll always remember: The Dellucci Double. Still, it probably won't take long for me to forget all about them.
All this comes on the same day that the Orange County Register reported Ameriquest would lay off 2,800 to 3,200 workers. Texas had already approached Ameriquest in 2006 about buying out the naming rights deal, but the company had balked until recently, when financial troubles forced them to re-visit negotiations. So much for the subprime lending market.
Concerning the issue of whether the team will turn around and look to sell the naming rights to another company, Tom Hicks had this to say:
It's worth more to us to have our brand back than it is to have the relationship [with Ameriquest]. You never say 'Never.' But as far as I'm concerned, it's going to be Rangers Ballpark for forever. It's going to be, 'Welcome to baseball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.'
We may be pointing back to this quote in disgust a few years from now, if or when the Rangers change their tune and try to cash in again. But for right now, bravo Mr. Hicks. You've righted one of your biggest wrongs.
Although, it'll always be The Ballpark in Arlington to me.
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Both Ron Washington and Jon Daniels said on Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket today that Robinson Tejeda's rotation spot was safe, despite his spring training struggles. Fairly big news, and somewhat comforting to me, but he still needs to put together a good start or two before the season begins.
Finally, Brandon McCarthy pitched well in his "B" game outing today, going five innings and allowing two runs, one of which was earned. He gave up three hits and two walks, while punching out five.
17 days until the Rangers home opener at RBiA.