MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Apparently, Memphians really cherish their liberty. So much so that so that when Arkansas-based Simmons Bank announced it was buying naming rights to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – and dropping Liberty from the name – there was tremendous pushback.
People, particularly veterans, took to social media to pan the name change as being unpatriotic and incompatible with our values. Because in addition to liberty, we Memphians also love tradition.
So the bank is backtracking, and says it will now use the name Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. Which means the words Memorial and Bowl are biting the dust. And if you think this is all a tempest in a teapot, you would be partly correct.
Greater Memphis has a lot more pressing issues to address than worrying about what we call our sports arenas. But that sentiment sort of misses the point of why this became newsworthy in the first place. It’s clear that Simmons Bank underestimated the attachment people have to the Liberty Bowl, which has been around for 56 years. You have to ask if the bank conducted any focus groups or reached out to local residents before deciding to delete Liberty from the stadium.
Money isn’t everything. And the good news is, at least Simmons Bank is willing to admit it fumbled the ball on this one. And we get to retain our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of winning football games.