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Privatization of space? What is the “naming” of the Lille stadium the name of?

The famous Stadium of the Lille metropolis and the LOSC club has been looking for a new sponsor since 2018. It is now done. According to information from France Bleu Nord, the European Metropolis of Lille has reached an agreement with the famous sports distribution brand Decathlon, for a commitment of the brand of six million euros over five years. But above all, it gave birth to a major transformation: that of the name of the arena. Exit Pierre-Mauroy stadium, hello “Decathlon Arena”.

The company had a major advantage during the negotiations since its head office is located in the Lille suburb of Villeneuve-d’Ascq, where the stadium is also located. A sufficient advantage to oust the name of the tutelary figure of the former Prime Minister of François Mitterrand and mayor of the northern metropolis for 28 years. It should still be listed under the name “Decathlon Arena”.


Imported from the United States, this marketing practice known as “naming”, consists of associating a sponsor with an event, a project, or in this case a place by giving it its name. A fashion that today affects the entire globe. In Los Angeles, the famous Staples Center has been renamed Arena, in Spain while in Spain, the Catalan Camp Nou in Barcelona has become Spotify Camp Nou. And France is obviously not spared by this wave: in Bordeaux the Chaban-Delmas stadium has given way to the Matmut Atlantique, the Vélodrome stadium in Marseille has become the Orange Vélodrome, while the Stade des Lumières in Lyon has mutated into Groupama Stadium.

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Lille is now overtaken by this phenomenon. So of course, Pierre Mauroy, did not pass for a football fanatic, he was even opposed to the construction of a large stadium. the naming had been considered from the start of the stadium construction project in 2008. It was in 2013 that Martine Aubry decided to baptize it with the name of her predecessor, after delicate negotiations.

In France, more and more companies associate their name with that of a competition or sports venue. Communities or clubs that sign these contracts with private entities do so primarily for pecuniary reasons. The main issue? The financing of future infrastructures by these companies or the sustainability of certain events, activities or places. For companies, “naming” responds to communication objectives, in terms of notoriety, prestige and image, thanks to the mention of the sponsor’s name.

Privatization of public space

But this marketing strategy has visible consequences on our environment, and some protest against the nibbling of public space by private firms. Gautier, a loyal LOSC supporter, explains that he will have trouble with the new name of his stadium: “We will always call it “Pierre-Mauroy” or “Grand Stade”, even if it remains a brand that conveys good values ​​and has been established here for a long time, he explains. It obviously raises questions for the big clubs, with very well-known stadiums, I find it disappointing. Money, money, money, it’s not just that. »

The former PS deputy of Eure François Loncle, meanwhile, called in 2013 in The cross at “ drive the stadium vendors out “. “Virtually, a place belonging to all becomes the property of a single brandwrote the chosen one at the time. And the most surprising thing is that this comes with the approval, even the solicitation, of local authorities. “If this phenomenon becomes widespread, it will soon be the streets, squares, bridges, monuments, schools, waterways that will be sold at auction” already alerted the former elected official. And to predict that: in Paris alone, the rue des Maraîchers could, for example, be renamed rue Bonduelle, the rue des Cendriers could be replaced by the rue Philip-Morris, the rue Couche by the rue Pampers, the quai de l’Horloge by the quai Rollex, rue Malus via rue AXA, rue des Canettes via rue Coca-Cola, rue des Chantiers via rue Bouygues. »

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If the deputy played at the time the prophets of bad omen, his prediction has unfortunately come true in other countries. In the United States, the Los Angeles Transportation Authority decided in 2016 to authorize the sponsorship of car parks, bus stations, trams and subways. On the east coast of the United States, a New York station has taken the name Atlantic Avenue – Barclays center, from the name of the British bank. This omnipresence of brands in the urban landscape can sometimes arouse the anger of the population. In the year 2000, the inhabitants of Houston, in the State of Texas, had thus protested against the naming of the Astrodome sports complex by Reliant Energy, partly boycotting the latter and choosing a competitor of Reliant during the deregulation of the electricity market.

The spread of naming also raises the question of the ethical limits of this practice. Because in the near future, other categories of institutions could well be affected. Basically, why not remedy the financial problems of hospitals or universities by resorting to this stratagem? In Providence, in the US state of Rhode Island, there is already the Hasbro Children’s Hospital, named after a famous American toy company. In Denton County in 2005, the small Texas town of Clark, which bore the name of its founder, was even renamed Dish after a commercial agreement with the namesake satellite television company. In exchange for this new name, the few hundred residents received television services and a digital video recorder. These examples demonstrate the possibilities of infinite expansion of the market, when it is given the possibility of interfering in the public space. From there to replace the names of the places in which we wander?

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