Before the the arena opened in 1993, the San Jose Mercury News held a contest for readers to name the new public facility. THE EPICENTER was the winning name, which meant being the middle of things and shaking up the world that represented both California and Silicon Valley. The newspaper incorporated the name with a cool earthquake circular pattern and seismograph line logo.
Alas, the city council ignored the naming contest.
For the next seven years, everyone called it the San Jose Arena. When selling the naming rights to public buildings became vogue for cash-strapped cities to do, Compaq bought the naming rights and renamed the arena as the Compaq Center in 2001. After Hewlett-Packard bought Compaq in 2002, the arena became the HP Pavilion.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the arena will become the SAP Center in 2016.
But a city description of the upcoming agenda item described it as a deal between Hewlett-Packard, San Jose Arena Management and the city to terminate the current naming rights agreement and approve a new five-year deal with SAP Global Marketing Inc. to rename the San Jose Arena SAP Center at San Jose. The city would receive $1.675 million annually for a total of $8.375 million over the term of the deal.
Why the SAP Center? The founder of SAP (a German-based business software company), Hasso Plattner, is the majority owner of the San Jose Sharks. As Mayor Chuck Reed explained to KGO Radio, SAP does a lot of advertising at the arena and it made sense for them to put their name on the arena.
My first visit to the arena was a Bruce Springsteen concert in 2008 after my friend won tickets to the mosh pit. A very memorable night: the number “666” was on the wristband I wore to get in, a pair of Christian fundamentalists stood on the sidewalk with a megaphone to denounce rock and roll as Satan’s music, and a young woman rub her ass against my crotch for two minutes before she realized that her boyfriend wandered off for a restroom break.
As for the San Francisco 49er’s new stadium in Santa Clara, no one bothered with a naming contest. Levi Strauss & Co. is paying $220 million USD over the next 20 years to call the new stadium the Levi’s Stadium. With Super Bowl 50 on deck for 2016, scoring a pair of tickets will be a seat of the pants affair.