When L.A.'s pleasantly alliterative Staples Center was renamed the goth-tinged Crypto.com Arena in late 2021, some fans considered it an upgrade. After all, the $700 million deal meant LeBron's house would no longer be sponsored by the purveyor of Post-its--but by one of the hottest startups in the rapidly growing crypto economy. Crypto.com has signed deals with sports teams (Paris Saint-Germain) and leagues (Serie A, F1) across the globe--a strategy designed to quickly spread brand recognition.

And yet longtime stadium-name watchers remain cautiously pessimistic. After all, pricey, vanity-plate naming deals often speak to a company's more-money-than-brains mindset, which in turn can foreshadow a financial nosedive. Or worse. Behold the venues that gave sponsorship a bad name.

Enron Gets Called for a Balk

There was a time when Enron was known as one of America's most innovative and entrepreneurial companies, led by its gangbuster energy-trading business, and for having "the smartest guys in the room." Then, almost overnight, the company became known for its innovative (as in illegal) accounting, imploding stock price (26¢ a share), and record-breaking bankruptcy (some $65 billion in assets). And, oh, yeah, CEO Jeffrey Skilling's having to do a dozen years in the slammer.

There was also the matter of that patch of grass where the Houston Astros play: In 1999, the company signed a 30-year, $100 million deal to rename the stadium Enron Field. But, three years later, when Enron became synonymous with lying, cheating, and stealing--not to mention the loss of 4,500 jobs, many of them local--the name carried a stink. (This, of course, was still 15 years before the Astros themselves were caught lying, cheating, and stealing signs from opposing teams' catchers.) So the Astros took a crowbar to the Enron sign and, soon after, Coca-Cola coughed up north of $100 million to re-rename the stadium after one of its bubble-free brands: Minute Maid Park, now known locally as the Juice Box.

Kodak Theatre: Double Exposure

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For a company that put a premium on focus, Eastman Kodak, the venerable film and camera company founded by George Eastman in 1892, gazed into the future with a greasy thumb over its lens. The industry may have sold 950 million rolls of film and about 20 million cameras in 2000, but surely Kodak had at least a few market-­research types who should have spotted the digital tsunami coming, right? Maybe not.

Instead of finding a life raft, Kodak's CEO plunked down $74 million for the naming rights to a glamorous building with Art Deco and other stylistic elements that's located just steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Kodak Theatre opened in 2001 to considerable fanfare as the new home of the Academy Awards--filmdom's Super Bowl.

There's a business logic here; after all, they call it the film industry, and Kodak supplied Hollywood with celluloid. But, a decade later, photographic and movie film was supplanted by digital imaging and Kodak filed for Chapter 11. The 20-year naming deal faded to bankruptcy black. Eventually, the audio company Dolby came to the rescue, beating out 10 other bidders with an offer that, in addition to wheelbarrows full of cash, included, not surprisingly, an upgrade to the sound system for the renamed Dolby Theatre.

CMGI's Patriot Games

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Put yourself in Robert Kraft's shoes: It's 2000, you own the New England Patriots, and you're severely jonesing for a new stadium to replace the junk­yard where your team currently resides. So what do you do? You reflect upon the hallowed history of legendary Boston venues such as Fenway Park and Boston Garden and you ... cut a deal with an internet company to build a stadium with the most soul-sucking of names: CMGI Field.

It did not take long for karma to blitz. CMGI, the once-powerful-now-forgotten internet incubator, owned AltaVista, the once-powerful-now-forgotten search engine. In a winner-take-most industry, CMGI survived (barely), but could no longer afford the yearly installments on the $114 million naming-rights fee. And so, before the Patriots had played a single game in their shimmering new 65,878-seat home, CMGI took a knee. The Patriots then called an option play, lateraling the rights to a local razor manufacturer--and have now appeared in an incredible eight Super Bowls in the years since they've occupied Gillette Stadium.

Purdue Pharma: Sacked by the Met

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Museums have always fed on family fortunes. That includes New York City's Metropolitan Museum--at 2.2 million square feet, one of the world's largest. The Met is known for its Rembrandts, Van Goghs, ancient Greek statues, and, last December, for agreeing to strip the name of its most infamous donors from seven of the museum's antiquity-stuffed galleries. That name? Sackler, founders of Purdue Pharma, and the Dr. Evil-ish peddlers of OxyContin, the effective but absurdly addictive painkiller that has led to widespread death, despair, and mispronunciation.

Although Purdue filed for bankruptcy in the face of numerous lawsuits, the Sackler clan, still worth north of $10 billion, remains among the country's richest families, and they've been showering museums with money for decades. The Sackler Wing of the Met opened in 1978, and while the museum itself seemed addicted to the money--even after the Louvre bid adieu to the Sacklers more than two years ago--the bad press and protests became too intense to ignore. "We believe this to be in the best interests of the museum and the important mission that it serves," Team Sackler said in a statement that reeked of "We're taking time off to spend with our family."