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P-reviously S-old I-dentity; PSINet Stadium: Die was cast two years ago for corporate name, so why cry now?

FOLKS AGHAST over the name of Baltimore's football stadium presumably missed the news two years ago when the Maryland Stadium Authority found itself $20 million short to complete construction at Camden Yards.

Reluctant to return to the legislature for more, the authority sold the naming rights to Ravens owner Art Modell for $10 million. As expected, he awarded the name to the highest bidder.

The only thing unknown then was the price -- an eye-popping $105.5 million over 20 years, almost half the $220 million it cost to build the stadium. The buyer was PSINet, a Virginia-based Internet service, which will have related marketing and online opportunities as part of the deal.

Anyone who didn't want to see the mostly publicly funded stadium named for a corporation could have spoken up in 1997 when the General Assembly explicitly voted to allow the name of the stadium to be sold.

Most new stadiums are named for companies willing to pay for the exposure. Quaint romantics hoping for another Memorial Stadium might as well await the return of the nickel crab cake.

Many Baltimoreans might be less upset if a local firm had won the naming right. But it's not uncommon for communications and computer high-flyers to be the ones most willing and able to pay for instant recognition.

As seen in Philadelphia, where a spanking new arena changed its name in a year because of a bank merger, it's possible that all this boo-hooing over the awkward PSINet Stadium name will be for naught if the company is taken over down the road.

Pub Date: 1/30/99

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