In the ongoing battle between the forces of good taste and historical significance vs. the evil minions of crass commercialism, a blow has finally been struck by the good guys. Last week the Denver Post reported that they will not honor the naming-rights agreement between the Denver Broncos and the Invesco Funds Group, an all-too familiar arrangement that has rather clumsily dubbed the new football stadium (built in the parking lot of the old, beloved Mile High Stadium) Invesco Field at Mile High. Although stadium announcers and radio/television broadcasters will be bound by contract to stumble over the more-than-a-mouthful new moniker, The Post will simply refer to the Broncos’ new digs as the new Mile High stadium.
Word is the bean-counters at Invesco are fairly peeved about the turn of events, given that they’re ponying up $60 million over the next 20 years for the naming rights. In defense of their position, though, The Post cites an overwhelming public opinion (led by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb) in favor of retaining the traditional name, noting that the new stadium was built on the backs of the public to the tune of $270 million in taxpayer funds.
It seems to us that this thing is about more than just public sentiment, though. Doesn’t our Constitution still guarantee stuff like freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the like? Which brings us neatly to the prospect of the naming rights for the yet-to-be-prostituted downtown baseball park in Missoula. Repeat after us: Missoula Civic Stadium…Missoula Civic Stadium…
Speaking of inflamed masses, 60 years ago this week, the Fair was on fire! Shortly before six in the evening on August 21, 1941, a fire broke out on the east end of the fairground grandstands, forcing fair and law enforcement officials to evacuate some 3,000 spectators through a small slot between the stands and the bleachers. The fire, an uncommonly hot one, quickly consumed the wooden structure and sent huge convection twisters of smoke and flame spiraling skyward as it spread to adjacent buildings, including a barn, the 4-H Club building, and several tipis set up around the site.
Miraculously, no one was hurt, although property losses stemming from the destruction of the buildings as well as additional thousands of dollars in farm equipment, vehicles, poultry and cash money burned up in the fire were eventually counted at more than $120,000. Automobiles in the fire had their rubber tires completely burned away.
Carpenters working nearby were able to erect temporary seating to serve for the duration of the fair, but the summer of 1941 was to be the last time Missoulians would gather at the fairgrounds to eat cotton candy, sip cherry phosphates and stroll down the midway for the next thirteen years. New construction—as well as the fair itself—was put on hold indefinitely with U.S. entry into WW II the following December.
But the fair did eventually come back to town, in 1954, under the new name of Western Montana Fair. Just a little history to reflect on while you’re throwing darts to win that pink unicorn mirror.