FIFA puts new names on sta­di­ums

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­times.com Twit­ter: @kbax­ter11

WIN­NIPEG, Canada — Ask any­one in south­ern Man­i­toba for di­rec­tions to Win­nipeg Sta­dium, and you’ll likely get a blank stare in re­sponse.

That’s be­cause Win­nipeg Sta­dium doesn’t ex­ist. The name is a cre­ation of FIFA, world soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body and the over­seer of the women’s World Cup.

Of­fi­cially, the 2-year-old sta­dium, home of the CFL’s Win­nipeg Blue Bombers, is known as In­vestors Group Field af­ter the Win­nipeg-based fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany that paid for the nam­ing rights to the tax­payer-funded sta­dium for 12 sea­sons.

But FIFA pol­icy for­bids com­mer­cial spon­sor­ship of sta­dium names. And be­cause In­vestors Group is not a FIFA spon­sor, sev­eral huge mar­quees fea­tur­ing the com­pany’s name and logo on the out­side of the sta­dium have been cov­ered by large rain­bow-colored ban­ners.

“Mak­ing sure we had proper brand­ing in place was def­i­nitely an im­por­tant piece in en­sur­ing our sta­dium was ready,” said Chad Falk, Win­nipeg’s venue gen­eral manager for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015. “For ex­am­ple, we had to re­move tens of thou­sands of branded cup-holder stick­ers that were at­tached to ev­ery seat.”

Those were stick­ers for a lo­cal com­pany called Pizza Hot­line, also not a FIFA spon­sor.

Ottawa’s TD Place Sta­dium — which takes its name from the TD Bank Group — also ran afoul of FIFA’s pol­icy and will be go­ing by its orig­i­nal name, Lansdowne Park, dur­ing the tour­na­ment. The other four World Cup sta­di­ums BC Place in Van­cou­ver, Ed­mon­ton’s Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium, Olympic Sta­dium in Mon­treal and tiny Monc­ton Sta­dium in Monc­ton — will re­tain their of­fi­cial names. Cup a hit on TV

The U.S.’ open­ing game with Australia on Mon­day drew 3.3 mil­lion view­ers to Fox Sports1, more than three times as many as watched the team’s group-play opener four years ago on ESPN. The game drew a 2.8 rat­ing in Los An­ge­les.

And that wasn’t even the largest na­tional TV au­di­ence for the first round, ac­cord­ing to FIFA. De­fend­ing cham­pion Ja­pan’s win over Switzer­land pulled 4.2 mil­lion peo­ple to Fuji TV’s cov­er­age.

In China, an au­di­ence of 2.3 mil­lion watched its team’s loss to Canada on Satur­day — a game three Canadian net­works aired to 1.8 mil­lion view­ers, a na­tional TV record for a women’s World Cup game.

Eng­land, France and the Nether­lands also drew TV au­di­ences of at least 1 mil­lion for their open­ers.

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