Do you suppose that the Mall of America ever thought about its brand name being associated with a "roof collapse" when it signed on and paid for the naming rights at the aging Mall of America Field, the nearly thirty year old inflatable indoor venue "formerly known as" the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota?

Having seen this image, the above question may seem especially relevant now, given the sheer size and importance of the integrity of the roof at the actual Mall of America, a roof so large that:

I’m thinking that the Mall of America has some pretty impressive public relations and PR talent to have most roof collapse news stories referring to the Metrodome name, not Mall of America Field.

Perhaps unintentional subtlety, or a slavish distinction between a roof and field, but it appears the Metrodome name is being linked more closely with the roof collapse, and the Mall of America Field name is being associated with some harmless snow falling on the empty field, with this headline, as a good example: "Metrodome Roof Collapse Leaves Snow on Mall of America Field."

I suspect this is a good example of one time when the Mall of America may be happy its naming right to the Metrodome hasn’t supplanted all use of or reference to the Metrodome:

We certainly can all be happy and thankful that the roof collapse didn’t occur during an event, and that no one was hurt during the collapse of the "Metrodome" roof.

Still, I’m left wondering whether the Vikings will be thankful for the roof collapse, especially if it ends up playing a role in obtaining a new home field for the team.

Losing the ability to host two home games in a disappointing and already losing season may be a very small price to pay for some new digs.

  • Would it be inappropriate for IP lawyers to call the facility “a bundle of sticks” after the collapse? The separation of the naming rights on the building, the field, the lines on the field, the blades of grass… is, perhaps, inevitable.
    At the University of Arizona, I noticed the court and the center were named differently – the McKale Center housed the Lute & Bobbi Olson Court. I’m not sure how common this is, though. I remember when the Kingdome in Seattle started to fall apart and was replaced with Safeco Field. Everyone refers to it as just “Safeco Field” – I’m not sure if there is a name for the entire facility or the building containing the field.
    I’d agree that the PR team must be on it. On the other hand, maybe Metrodome is just a more immediately recognizable identifier – even with the small leaps it takes from “Mall of America Field” to “Mall of America” to “Minneapolis, Minnesota” to “Minnesota Vikings and their field.”

  • Big bucks for naming rights didn’t seem to pay off but per your blog, it’s not a bad thing in a crisis. The “Metrodome” brand is too ingrained. In another example, the Willis Tower in Chicago will always be the Sears Tower to me. If you want the building to be the brand, get in at the start a la the Staples Center.

  • In all of the time I wrote about the roof collapse, I never once referred to the facility as “Mall of America Field.” I’m not an official journalist, but a publicist/consumer who talks frequently about this and other sports stories. To me, it’s long been the Metrodome — and will be, especially when we talk about an aging venue.

  • Perhaps these insightful comments beg the question of how much (or little) sports venue naming rights might be worth if the sponsor doesn’t get in on the ground floor, so to speak.

  • I believe because nationally there is no brand recognition to Mall of America Field.

  • Theresa, if so, it makes me wonder how much Mall of America paid for the naming rights and what, if any, return on investment it achieved.

  • You wonder. Additionally, if the Vikings get a new stadium, will the Mall of America Field name move with the new Vikings Stadium, and if so, was that their ultimate goal upon their initial investment?

  • Replacing a well known name with another less well associated name is difficult. I also venture to guess that it might be MOA Field AT the HHH Metrodome. Just a wild guess, but knowing how sports naming rights can be rather convoluted, it is a possibility. In either case, the MOA did little to push the name change locally (or seemingly nationally) and since the field is downtown rather than in Bloomington, the name doesn’t quite stick locally.

  • Brand equity built over time. The Metrodome name has it and Mall of America Field does not. Plus, the Metrodome went years without a naming rights sponsor. The name stands too well on its own…this is something would-be sponsors of older stadiums should consider. Note: Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_H._Humphrey_Metrodome), the naming rights expire after 2011…this would likely answer any connection to a new stadium. Also, I’d bet “Homerdome” would no doubt give “Metrodome” a good run in brand equity research. :) Though “Homerdome” just doesn’t offer much of an appropriate reference during football season. Lastly, Mall of America should be glad their name isn’t largely associated with this roof collapse. How fortunate for them. I bet other more recent stadiums that have been branded from the start wouldn’t be so lucky.

  • In addition, it was the HHH Metrodome — named after a MN statesman who had a pretty successful career. Or do you prefer, and remember, the name of a overgrown mecca of commercialization?

  • Jason – great point. Not being from Chicago, I had no idea the Sears Tower was no longer the Sears Tower. Nor do I think I will ever care to call it anything else.