Before I get to the “story of the day”, let me handle some pending items. First there is an erratum that needs to be acknowledged. I said that I could only think of two instances where an NFL team changed names while staying in the same city. An email from a reader pointed out that the Decatur Staleys became the Chicago Staleys who then became the Chicago Bears. That adds a third team to the list. I knew that the Decatur Staleys had become the Chicago Bears, but I did not know until yesterday that they were also the Chicago Staleys at one point.
The other pending item is a response to a reader comment/question regarding the removal of Marge Schott’s name from the University of Cincinnati baseball stadium. Here is the reader’s comment/question:
“If a donor makes contribution to a building fund WITH THE STIPULATION that the building be named after him (essentially naming rights) wouldn’t the school be obligated to retain the name? They took his/her money. hate it that much? Buy the rights back, or knock it down.
“BTW, check out the timeline. The school took her money years AFTER the anti-black, anti-gay, and pro-Hitler statements, and after she had been run out of baseball.”
I posed that question to several attorneys of my acquaintance and got back several responses. I will excerpt them and/or blend them here:
“ … though never having had the opportunity to represent someone with enough money to donate in exchange for naming rights, for sure the deal is memorialized in a written document, and I suspect that document has an escape clause or three. Or maybe a clause that reduces repayment by a certain percentage every year after the first 10, or 20, or 50.”
“Then there’s the issue of who’s going to fight to enforce the stipulation … Of course, views are often affected by the availability of large amounts of money, but I don’t know if Marge left any family, or who or what were the residual beneficiaries of her estate. For all I know she was a cat lover who left the remainder of her estate to the Cincinnati SPCA, and an organization like that would probably not want to be on the other side of this kind of issue.”
“I think the answer would depend on whether there was an enforceable agreement (for example, a written contract) that accompanied the gift. Sometimes a donor makes a gift and the grateful recipient offers to name a building, or gallery, or whatever after the donor but this offer by itself may not be a binding promise. If there was no written agreement an agreement can still be enforced but it is far more difficult since there are likely to be differing recollections as to what was agreed to.
“Even if there is a written agreement, it would depend on what all the clauses in the agreement say. Institutions often leave themselves wiggle room to account for future events – For example sometimes buildings, especially on college campuses, are torn down to make way for new ones, park benches are blown away in storms, etc. And art galleries often store a donated work of art in the basement after agreeing to exhibit it with a plaque naming the donor because the donated art is no longer of public interest. And if a recipient institution includes a clause in the gift contract that a building can be renamed when it is “in the best interests of the institution or the public” it has wiggle room to rename the building even when it is not torn down. The agreement may also provide that even if a building is to be named after a donor, the donor’s gift can be returned and the name removed. So, there is no simple answer to your reader’s question of whether the stadium has a legal obligation without knowing more about what was agreed to.”
AND – – as a footnote…
“I’m sure you’ve noticed the increasing trend to name not only buildings but also parts of buildings after donors (e.g. the lobby, the theater, the event room, etc.). Not being rich I am aiming more simply – a Joe Flabeetz Toilet Stall perhaps.”
[Aside: We all know that Joe Flabeetz is not an attorney; his name appears here to protect the anonymity of my correspondent.]
THE story of the day – – and perhaps a story that will provide folks with a week’s worth of commentary – – is the Patrick Mahomes Contract. It is so big and extends for so long that even the details are difficult to grasp. I first heard that it was a 10-year deal worth $400M; then Adam Schefter said it was worth $450M as an extension on Mahomes’ current two year contract meaning that the total deal was 12-years and $477M; this morning, there is a report that the deal – including incentives could be worth $503M through the 2031 NFL season. Let us try to cut through the hyperbole and minimize the superlatives here:
- This is the largest potential value for a sports contract that I can recall in any of the major US sports. [Yes, there is a superlative there; it is unavoidable.]
- This is an awfully long contract for a player in a sport where injuries often cut short careers. Reports say that the guaranteed money in the event of an injury is $141M.
- Mahomes is only 24 years old; barring injury, he is probably not yet at his prime.
- Andy Reid is 62 years old; he will be 74 years old when Mahomes contract expires. Andy Reid may have signed his “quarterback for life” regarding his coaching career…
As the NBA players begin to assemble in the “Orlando Bubble”, there has been plenty of attention paid to the results of COVID-19 tests and which players have chosen to sit out the isolation games in Orlando. Here in Curmudgeon Central, I went looking for teams that were advantaged or disadvantaged by the idea of playing in empty gyms in the “Bubble” as opposed to teams that were hit by a bunch of virus cases or players who opted out.
- Looks to me as if the Sixers are the biggest losers in this concept. When the NBA pulled the plug on the regular season almost 4 months ago, the Sixers had a home record of 29-2. There will be no “home games” in the “Bubble”…
- [Aside: The Bucks will get hit with a similar disadvantage in the “Bubble”. Their home record back in March was 28-3.]
- Looks to me as if the Lakers are the biggest winners in this concept. The Lakers “road record” for the season is 26-6 and it seems to me that every game for every team in the “bubble” is the moral equivalent of a “road game”.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times recently. It probably applies to lots of sporting events and particularly to the upcoming NBA games in the “Bubble”:
“Here’s one sports cliché you might not be hearing for a while: ‘We just wanted to take the crowd out of the game.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………