January 19, 2000

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen

One of the most outlandish things I have ever seen Capitalists do is the Target Center in Minneapolis. I am not against basketball and I certainly liked the fact that the basketball arena was built without going to the Minnesota Legislature for free money. What struck me as outrageous is that the owners of the Target Center actually had the guts to have Dayton Hudson’s pay millions of dollars to name the building the “Target Center.”

Hopefully, who ever came up with the idea of selling the right to name the basketball arena got a big bonus. To top it off, the name is not permanent. It only is a ten year agreement. Soon the Target Center might become the Walmart Center or, God forbid, the “Depends Center.” I can imagine what they would hand out during Fan Appreciation Night!

All this major money making got me thinking about two weeks ago. I happen to have a building that doesn’t have a name. I have been tempted to give it a name, but I really haven’t been able to come up with anything that would be interesting and uplifting. After breaking my leg last summer at this building, I thought of calling it “The Bad Luck Center” or maybe “Broken Knee Plaza”, but I realize that would be bad for business.

At one point I thought it might be good to name it after Ely’s patron saint of packsackers – Miss Dorothy Molter. However, I could see an endless stream of tourists next summer looking for where the root beer bottling tours start.

Someone did recommend that I name the place after that famous evangelist who described Ely as God’s second mistake after Hell. They suggested I call it “Billy Sundae’s Revenge, but that would have only worked if I kept it a drinking establishment. With all the remodeling I have done, I wanted a “G” Rated name for the building.

Now that we have entered a new millennium as the wealthiest nation on Earth, I figure there must be a lot of people with way too much money on their hands. Someone out there must have a desire to name a building after themselves or someone they love? With all this marketing power of the Internet I figured I could find someone who would love to part with some cash for the unique opportunity naming a building after someone they know. So I set up a 10 day auction on ebay.com. Ebay is the biggest auction site in the world. Over three million items are on sale at any given time. You can buy computers, old books, classic cars, houses, antiques, and beanie babies on ebay.com. Over 30 million people log onto ebay everyday.

For a mere $2.00 I got my name auction listed on ebay.com. I figure it would not be long before the bids would come pouring in. Do I hear $1,000?

Soon I might be selling the right to name all of my possessions. I can see the cash flow in. The Thomas Smupps Memorial Back Yard – The Linda Womps Living Room – The Paul Wellstone Toilet. Do I hear $500? The things I can sell names for are almost endless. Maybe, I can start a Name a Tree Registry. People would pay me $50 to have a tree named in the BWCA and I would send them a map with the location of the tree marked on it. As long as I marked a spot on the map that is green I know I marked a tree. Talk a bout a no brainer for me to get rich on. If suckers - excuse me – If patrons can have a star named after them, why not trees? Do I hear $250? Plus just think what it will do for tourism to have all these people come to Ely to see their tree, building, or toilet.

Sometimes I scare myself with my own brilliance. Then again, my wife is ready to use this column as evidence of a supreme case of Cabin Fever. Do I hear $100?

Every day I checked the auction to see how much I was making. Day 1 - $0. Day 2 - $0. I figure people were just waiting until payday. Day 3 - $0. Do I hear $50? Day 4 - $0. Day 6 - $0. Alas, no bids came in. Do I hear $5? Ah, my dream of riches started to fade. Day 9 - $0. Day 10 - $0.

Once again, I had an idea ahead of its time. So here I sit with a nameless building unable to capitalize on vanity. Maybe, there is hope for humanity. Maybe, PT Barnum was wrong. People may be smarter than they look. If that be the case, I guess I better keep my day job. Farewell Name A Tree, Inc.


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