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Pro Vercelli: Contest Results

One of the first pieces of news I got after the Champions League final was that the board had decided to expand the stadium by more than 11,000 seats.

In other words, our not-even-one-year-old arena is about to have its seating capacity increased by almost 40%. This is huge news, and it only heightens the importance of finding a good name for the place. And thus, to the contest results.

First, thanks to everyone who wrote in with an entry, whether by email or in the comments. There were a lot of great suggestions, which could be divided into a few different categories:

  • Dante references. The new stadium is on the Via Dante Alighieri, and Vercelli actually puts in a brief appearance in the Inferno, so it would be a nice bit of cross-century synergy to use this as the basis for the name. Also, it would correctly indicate the club’s cosmic aspirations. The only real con here is that I feel like Fiorentina fans could always hold it against us.
  • Ex-Pro Vercelli players. Stadio Guido Ara, Stadio Pietro Ferraris, Stadio Virginio Rosetta, etc. These names all have the advantage of paying homage to the past while also honoring the name-form of the old Silvio Piola. On the other hand, everyone agrees that Piola was the greatest player Vercelli ever produced, so isn’t choosing a different player as a namesake sort of taking things down a notch? You can’t see the Chicago Bulls of 2019 moving from Michael Jordan Arena to Scottie Pippen Fieldhouse. Can you?
  • Concepts from Pro Vercelli’s history. These ranged from specific remembrances of the rivalry with Inter (Ricordati 1910) to more general pronouncements of Pro Vercelli’s return to glory (Stadium of the Renaissance, Stadio del Risorgimento, etc.) I like the historical spirit of these ideas, but I wonder if it’s wise to have a stadium name that takes as a premise the fact that your club used to be terrible. There’s something sort of bittersweet about these names, if you ask me.
  • Club nicknames. Ideas like “House of Lions” or “Stadium of the White Shirts.” Some of these sound undeniably cool. (Who wouldn’t want a stadium called “The House of Lions”? Come on!) But they’re also a bit generic, especially since the stadium is technically named after the club to begin with.
  • Self-glorification. A couple of people suggested “Brian Phillips Stadium.” Please. Guys. You’re embarrassing me. Check the mail over the next couple of days for your complimentary lifetime season tickets.
  • Comedy. Apart from the 40% of all entries that wanted to name the stadium after Walter Colombo, we also had a fair number of votes for “Naming Rights Park,” one for “Stadium of Robust Red Wine,” and one for “Stadio Il Sodoma,” after the Vercelli-born mannerist painter, who (and I quote) “lived in a house bursting with apes, squirrels and marmosets, and once painted a self portrait with a badger.” (Thanks, mafu.) These have the obvious pros of being fantastic, along with the obvious cons of failing to convey the fact that everything about Pro Vercelli is almost terrifyingly serious.

But you know what? I can’t resist Naming Rights Park. Part of me wants to go with Dante, but even more of me loves the idea of thumbing our noses at corporate sponsorship while creating a giant in-joke for the entire town of Vercelli. What finally settled it was the ease with which I could hear Derek Rae saying, “Live tonight from Naming Rights Park, on the beautiful Via Dante Alighieri.” Plus, I see no reason why we can’t still call the visitor’s locker room “the Inferno.”

So Naming Rights Park it is. If we need a game-world explanation, let’s say people in Vercelli started using the name as a joke when the first architects’ drawings of the new stadium included a giant “Naming Rights” on the roof (not that that would ever happen in real life, of course), and then a group of like-minded fans opposed to the corporate takeover of soccer banded together on the internet, raised some money, and actually bought the naming rights and went with that name. We’ve got a 20-year naming rights deal that’s only bringing us €1 million a year, so if we got a couple of rich fans on board, this isn’t even totally unfeasible.

Here we are then: Naming Rights Park, an elegant, modern, soon-to-be-30,000-seat arena in the heart of old Vercelli. Technically, Siobhan was the first person to suggest the name, so she should win the contest. However, since she’s clearly already in charge of the stadium’s fine dining, we’re going to name the ultras’ curva (the north stand) after the first person who didn’t enter the contest over breakfast: Kyle. Who is now the official capo of the Curva di Kyle.

Congratulations, Kyle. Just remember: Our tifos had better put those jokers from the rest of Italy to shame. We’re still undefeated for all time at the Naming Rights, and we’re going to need all kinds of atmosphere to keep it that way.

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Pro Vercelli: Contest Results

by Brian Phillips · June 19, 2009

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