Up Front: THE NAME GAME
AT LEAST IT WON'T BE HUIZENGA STADIUM
What's in a name? Plenty, as Wayne Huizenga, chief of Blockbuster Entertainment, is finding out. The video-rental and sports czar wants to buy the Miami Dolphins for $138 million and the 50% of Joe Robbie Stadium that he doesn't own for $12 million. Trouble is, the sellers--heirs of founder Joe Robbie--insist that the stadium name not change. This is stymying the deal.
Huizenga doesn't want to enter an open-ended long-term agreement on the name. "I'm not going to call it Huizenga Stadium, absolutely not," vows Huizenga, who also owns the Florida Marlins baseball team and Florida Panthers hockey team. And he argues that if he ever wants to sell the field, a permanent name would hurt. Corporate sponsors pay big to see their monikers on sports facilities: United Airlines anted up $20 million for Chicago's new United Center.
Some of Robbie's descendants are insistent. Says Deborah Olson: "My father built the stadium. I consider it a memorial." A compromise is under negotiation. Meanwhile, Huizenga is taking a drubbing locally. Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote wrote that removing the Robbie name "would be corporate grave-robbing."EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER Gail DeGeorge