For a while now, I have been following the naming rights saga with perhaps more interest than it warranted. I mean, as a fan, it makes sense. I want my team to get a good naming rights deal so that the stadium can be expensive (read: awesome) and be paid off relatively soon. As I understand it, the 20-year deal at $220 million is a bit lower than expected, but still pretty good in comparison to most other major sports. Good. I'm happy for the team.
But, to be frank, I have wanted the naming rights to go to Levi Strauss & Co. for a while. Not because I particularly like the company; I know almost nothing about the modern company, except that it has just recently started to bounce back from a few down years. Heck, I don't even own a pair of jeans. I like slacks too much, and I wear Dickies when I need to go casual (also, because my taste in pants was apparently developed when I was, like, twelve and Hot Topic was still a thing...).
I also know that Levi Strauss has what may be the coolest commercial I've ever seen. No joke, this thing is a piece of beauty; the visuals are fantastic because of sharp editing, and though I bet Walt Whitman would have hated the blatant consumerism, his words so perfectly evoke youth and The West.
And this is why I am happy that Levi Strauss got the gig -- they may be a massive corporation, unabashedly resplendent in their consumerism, but they are a San Francisco institution. (And in this same vein, I was sort of hoping that Anchor Brewing Co. would get in on the naming rights action, but alas).
Yes, Levi's just fits with the 49ers. The company came about a little bit after the gold rush; we are a team of miners, if we take the name 49ers literally, and jeans are the pants of miners. But, even more so, Levi's are the pants of San Francisco.
I've slowly come to terms with the idea that the 49ers would no longer call San Francisco their home. In name, of course, they will be the same. But the team is moving locations, and that has been a tough reality for me to accept. Perhaps I'm a sentimental fool, and a bit of a romantic. Perhaps I am. But I desperately wanted the 49ers to stay in San Francisco for the longest time. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I accepted the inevitable.
But, if the 49ers have to move from the City, then I sincerely hope that they can drag as much of San Francisco as possible with them.
This team has a legacy that starts with a run-down joint called Kezar Stadium that looks more like a Roman amphitheater sitting regally on the outskirts of Pompeii than like a modern sports stadium. But it holds a lot of history.
This team has a legacy that continued with the intrepid Candlestick Park. It looks a lot like a stadium, and once upon a time, it had a certain majesty. These days, though, it looks weary. It is an old stadium, and it is clear that the time has come for the team to move on. It's time to leave Candlestick. But it holds a lot of history.
So this team better move its legacy to this new, innovative stadium. This stadium will be high-tech and flashy. This stadium will provide Wi-Fi and booths and green energy. This stadium will be cutting edge. This stadium will make many others look old. But this stadium better be ready to hold a lot of history.
At the end of the day, I hope this naming rights deal with Levi's isn't just about money and advertising (though it is already making me think that I should get a pair of Levi's to wear to the game). I hope this isn't solely a business decision. No, this should be about a San Francisco legacy, because when cash has been counted and the bolts have been bolted, this team has an identity that can still be summed up with three beautifully composed words: "Pioneers! O Pioneers!"