Monday, October 27, 2014

Losing Our Identity

Recently I started receiving notices from "The Berglund Center" in my inbox. The Roanoke Civic Center, the place where I saw Linda Ronstadt, Styx, the Commodores, Neil Diamond, and a great number of ice skating shows, is now called "The Berglund Center" because the city sold naming rights.

Never again will I make another purchase from Berglund Automotive. I haven't in many years anyway, but I guarantee you I won't ever again.

I understand they're also considering doing similar things with parts of Elmwood Park. Maybe they will sell the right to name the newly remodeled downtown library. Maybe Microsoft will buy that and call it the Microsoft Reader (that's me being snarky), since Microsoft doesn't have an e-reader that I am aware of.

Earlier, Roanoke changed the name of the Roanoke Regional Airport to the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, even though the airport is in Roanoke City. Blacksburg is 40 minutes away, and I really don't care if Virginia Tech calls it home. They can build their own airport.

I don't live in the city, but I live in the Roanoke Valley, and as such, in the environs of Roanoke City. Botetourt County is part of that - in fact, the mother of that. Botetourt County ultimately spawned Roanoke City, formerly called Big Lick.

Botetourt has for years had an image problem - it doesn't know if it's rural or suburban, an industrial designation, a tourism designation, or just a bedroom community of neighboring jurisdictions.

Apparently that image problem extends to the entire valley and encompasses a number of counties, several towns, and the city proper. And now it's been made even more complex by the lack of financial support from the state and poor political choices on the part of local representatives.

As a citizen of the Roanoke Valley, I take pride in Roanoke and its environs. I love the area's history, I enjoy the viewshed, and I find the whole region to be delightful. It offers something for everyone if one wants to take advantage of the many activities available. We have educational facilities, museums, festivals, movie theaters, shopping, and other attractions. The whole valley is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and while we may be a little on the Appalachian side of things, on the whole we're a happy community. It may not be for everyone, but it's been my family's home for at least seven generations.

I resent the corporate takeover of things that citizens hold dear and take pride in - and paid for with taxpayer dollars and donations. I don't want to attend The Berglund Center. I want to take pride in ROANOKE CITY. I don't want to fly out of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Airport. I want to fly out of the Roanoke Regional Airport.

Soon we will all be sporting advertising on our forehead. It's already on the backs of ball fields, splattered over hats and T-shirts, and forcing name changes of things that make my head spin. I stopped watching NASCAR when the Winston Cup became something else. To me, it will always be the Winston Cup.

So for heavens sake, don't make me go pay my taxes at the Altec Courthouse, or watch kids play ball at the Titan Cement All-America Field. Don't make me check out books from the HomeTrust Bank Library. And I absolutely will not under any circumstances attend the Fralin-Waldron YMCA. I don't care how much money they donated to the project. I don't want to be owned.

We need to keep our image as a unique and congruous community, not drive wedges down the middle with oligarchical and political stupidity.

If I had the money, I'd have paid for those naming rights to the Roanoke Civic Center - and then left the name alone. Good corporate citizens should pony up money to support things the citizenry wants, and they should do it not to advertise and make more money for themselves. They should do it because, guess what? They live here, too, and they should have some civic pride in their community.


  1. Remind me to tell you some unknown info on this subject you will find interesting.

  2. I was livid when they changed the name of the airport. This is Roanoke.... NOT BLACKSBURG!!!

  3. Yes!! Absolutely. I agree with you. Unfortunately, I don't think there is much, if anything, we can do about it.

  4. Back in NY they changed the name of the city arena so many times, people couldn't keep up with what to call it. Everyone simply stuck with calling it by its original name. You can bet I'll be calling it the Roanoke Civic Center regardless of what they change it to. I wonder what Greenfield will end up being called one day?

  5. i don't get the civic center thing at all and my husband works for berglund. i could say a whole bunch on the subject but i won't ;) i have same types of feelings from things i grew up with in san diego, our stadium for instance was always jack murphy, then it was changed to qualcomm...those of us who have been there forever still call it the murph..same with our fair, the del mar fair, was changed to san diego county fair...again, those of us that are natives still refer to it as the del mar fair. why mess with a good thing?

  6. Well said! Sadly, this trend has become too much a part of our society. Here, Milwaukee County Stadium was torn down and replaced with Miller Park. Three Rivers Stadium in Philly was replaced with Heinz Field. Here in Madison, a rich couple donated money a few years back to a local museum, on condition that they change the name from Elvehjem (with the cool logo "LVM") to Chazen. I have not been there since.

  7. What a great piece! I hope it is published somewhere. It doesn't matter what the size of the city is, it is happening everywhere. Corporate pieces litter the landscape here, too. Petco Park for the Padres? Where did the land come from, and so on. We finally, after years and years of it being on the back burner, got a new main library built downtown. It was dedicated last month. It took at least 10 years of fighting for it.


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