The biggest news of the off-season for the Sixers has broken. You’ve read about it. The Sixers will no longer refer to the Wells Fargo Center as the Wells Fargo Center. Is this a healthy response to and rejection of the banal practice of corporate naming of everything from NBA arenas to the “turnover of the game?” Arby’s has to want this last one – I claim a finder’s fee.
Sadly, no. It turns out that Wells Fargo Bank has declined to partner with the Sixers. Surely the bank is being unreasonable in not joining forces with such an amiable bunch as the Sixers’ top brass. The imagination reels. In fact, it’s in overdrive and hears the following conversation, in which the negotiations have precipitously deteriorated. The participants are Josh Harris, Sixers’ hedgefunder-in-chief , Sam Hinkie, the GM (included because he’s Sam Hinkie and analytical stuff is involved), and the Wells Fargo Bank rep (we’ll call him…….Wells Fargo).
Josh Harris: Thanks for coming by, Wells. I’m sorry we didn’t get off on the right foot on the phone. Sam’s here because he’s good at details and deals and, frankly, he’s considered all the – what are they, Sam?
Sam Hinkie: Optionalities.
Josh: Whatever. The point is that we think it’s important not just that you partner with our landlord Comcast Spectacor but also with us. As Sam said at the all-star break press conference, we’re all about making everyone else better.
Sam: Better. That’s the key. But we have to take the long view.
Wells Fargo: Okay, but I thought I had the perfect partnership idea. You let us have naming rights to your new and beautiful practice facility on the Camden waterfront. We can withdraw the idea of giving all players the middle name “Wells,” especially since it will be hard to convince 25 or more players per season to take our name. See – we’re flexible and want to partner!
Sam: And I appreciate your maintenance of the optionalities. But we were hoping you’d be a little more proactive.
Wells: What else can we do? You guys need money?
Josh: Oh, hell no. We’re saving plenty by using a temp agency and 10-day contracts with personnel. All is well on that front. But we’ll be spending more later. Maybe.
Sam: No, Wells, we need a partner in our Plan. We need you to help us build our team of the future. We need draft picks.
Wells: You know we’re a bank, right?
Sam: You buy the naming rights for the arena of the Sacramento Kings next season and the Phoenix Suns for the year after that. I’m sure they’ll come at a cost you can handle. I hear the Kings would much rather play in the Wells Fargo Center than in the “Sleep Train Arena.” Buy out that deal and tell them you want the Kings to send us three years of draft picks – 2020 to 2022. First round if you can get ‘em. Second if you can’t. Then approach the Phoenix Suns. They have to want to unload the “Talking Stick Resort Arena.” That’s got to be worth another three years of picks.
Wells: The teams don’t control naming rights. That’s up to the landlords. And how do I get you draft picks?
Josh: Now that’s not a can-do attitude, Wells. You guys are big out west. You know people.
Wells: Can’t do it. Those sponsors had to pay a fortune to get the landlords to accept crappy names like that for their arenas. Way too expensive. How about the Sixers wear Wells Fargo Bank socks next year?
Josh: Won’t work with the uniforms we’re unveiling next week.
Wells: Then we’ll just have to stick with naming the practice facility.
Sam: You don’t get it. We need draft picks. All of them. You must do your part.
Josh: Wells, it’s either get with the program or we’re going to pretend you don’t exist. Walk out that door without partnering with us properly and we’re done. Besides, we’re in talks with Depends for naming of the practice facility.
Wells: Aren’t you the guys who fired that beautiful anthem singer and the Philadelphia Orchestra?
Josh: We hire and we can fire. From now on we’re playing at …….. The Center or The Arena, or something. You’re history, Wells. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya [Ok, Josh wouldn’t say that].
See you at that place on Broad and Pattison.