Arena Naming Wrongs

January17/ 2000

BobLee came to “The Heartland” for the holidays but coincident to one of sports goofiest situations of this season.  It made the national media but is really hot news here in Kansas City.  125 miles east is Columbia, Missouri and The Laurie Family.  Sports has certain “rules” you don’t go breaking without consequence.  The Mizzou curators broke one of’em and national ridicule is the penalty.  This one has “everything” … a dumb Dookie, a bimbo, and a bad boy.

Bill Laurie’s life used to be called a “Horatio Alger Story”.  Now we might call it a “John Kerry Story”.  There are three basic ways to acquire tremendous wealth in America … earn it … be born to it … marry it.  Bill went down to Bentonville Arkansas and looked for any gal named Walton.  (There were no Heinz’ widows in Bentonville)  He found Nancy.  Nancy is “Bud” Walton’s daughter.  “Bud” is “Sam” Walton’s brother.  Sam Walton is/was Sam Walton.  (Yes, the guy that owns those stores where the punter had his little unpleasantness.)  Bill and Nancy got hitched.  Bill has not needed to find an ATM machine at midnight in the rain ever since.  The Laurie settled in Columbia, Missouri.

22 years ago Bill and Nancy begat Paige.  Paige was the apple of Bill and Nancy’s eye. Paige grew up and went off to college at USC (no, not Steve Spurrier’s USC, the other one that O.J. went to).  USC subsequently gave Paige Laurie a degree for her academic accomplishments. Uh oh …

Meanwhile Bill and Nancy had become high profile philanthropists and sports entrepreneurs.  They formed Paige Sports Enterprises as the holding company for their purchase of the St Louis Blues NHL team.  NOTE: They named their sports company after their daughter, Paige.  

The University of Missouri did not need a new basketball arena but Bill Laurie said he would give them $25 million to help build one any way IF he could “name it”. … so Missouri said “OK”.  The Missouri Curators (same as Board of Trustees) figured it would be either Laurie Arena or at worst Walton Arena.  Silly curators.

The Lauries “rights” stipulated that the building could not be named after any living coach.  Which ruled out both Roy Williams and Nolan Richardson and specifically long time Missouri coach Norm Stewart.  Every coach named “Norm’ is called “Stormin’” and so was Stewart.  Norm was much revered around mid-Missouri but not with the Lauries apparently.

It is notable here that The Univesity of Missouri has “been on a roll” lately regarding “unfortunate circumstances”.  Quinn Snyder is the head basketball coach.  Quinn used to be married to Larry Brown’s daughter but isn’t any more.  He wears Gucci loafers, Armani suits and has never bothered to read the NCAA Recruiting rulebook.  Not even the Cliff Notes version.  Quinn played for Coach K at Duke.  Many will say that was where his troubles began.

When Quinn took the Mizzou job, his mentor, Coach K, even said “I sure hope he has a creative compliance officer”.  Mike knew that Quinn kinda sorta ignored all those “thou shalt nots”.   He still does but he has patented a very effective “who me?” lip-biting look when the NCAA goons visit Columbia … which has been pretty frequently since Ricky Clemons first arrived on campus.

Ricky Clemons was Mizzou’s Maurice Clarett.  Every coach in America knew he was a loose cannon albeit a very talented player.  As soon as Ricky arrived in Columbia his “legend” began.  Ricky did it all … academic flim flam, girl friend wham bangs, undisclosed cash in his account … you name the NCAA rule and Ricky broke it.  He even ended up in the local hoosgow.


   While Ricky was cavorting in Columbia, the apple of Daddy’s eye was up to her own creative academic flim flams out in West L.A.

Ricky gets paroled (with one of those ankle alarm thingies).  The President of the Missouri Univ System (think Molly Broad) agrees to take Ricky in and help straighten him out.  Prez Elson Floyd and Mizzus Floyd had Ricky staying in the official Prez digs. Ms Floyd (think Clare Huxtable) even gives Ricky some “dating tips” … “don’t you be dating them white girls … there be plenty of “our kind” out there for you to choose from”.  Folks, this is absolutely true.  BobLee ain’t making NONE of this up.

Ricky gets bored one night and starts joyriding all over the official Univ Prez estate in an ATV.  That constituted a parole violation.  He was limited to 2-wheel joyriding.  That 3rd wheel set off the ankle alarm.  Columbia’s “finest” show up and Ricky was back at the local graybar Hilton but not before the media and every Jayhawk fan in the world hears about it. … Meanwhile Paige Laurie is burning midnight oil at SoCal … NOT!

Ricky gets busted so he sings like a canary.  He does a full “Clarett” naming names of Big Mizzou Fat Cats and Quinn’s staffers who “took care of him”.  Quinn disavowes everything.  He does the complete “disavow … “whatever Ricky says is a complete lie. I know nothing. I don’t even know Ricky. Ricky who?” … meanwhile Lawrence Kansas gives Ricky the key to their city and his own pair of Gucci loafers.

When the NCAA goons are done, several of Quinn’s assistants are axed and Mizzou is prohibited from recruiting anyone named “Ricky” for three years.  Folks at Carolina, of course, hated Quinn from his Duke days so sworn enemies Tar Heels and Jayhawks join in hoisting several cold ones to Quinn’s new recognition as “THE cheatingest wavy-haired coach in Division 1-A” (aka The Tarkanian-Harrick Award).

The new arena was ready to open.  The Lauries announce their choice of names (Taa Daa!) … it’s to be The Paige Sports Arena.  This angered a few Mizzou alums who noted that Paige was (1) well known locally as a spoiled skank, and (2) did not attend Missouri.  They ain’t heard nuthin’ yet.  Enter John Stoessel on ABC’s 20/20.

ABC runs an ad asking “did you ever help your skanky heiress roommate cheat in college” and Paige’s old college roommate answers the ad.  It seems our little Laurie girl had two assets … she looks like Paris Hilton and Mamma and Daddy gave her PLENTY of walking around money at USC.  She decided to invest her pocket change (at least $20,000 of it) in having her roommate do all her papers and reports for her … and roomie kept a nice paper trail.

ABC breaks the story two weeks before Paige’s Arena is set to open.  Actually she had already done the ribbon-cutting thingie.

There are several Rules In College Sports …

(1) Do not bet on Texas against Oklahoma

(2) JoPa will NEVER retire

(3) The two-deep depth chart at Ohio State all drive SUVs with dealer tags

(4) NEVER name an arena after ANYONE that looks like Paris Hilton.

   This whole arena/stadium “naming rights” craze is bizarre.  Everyone went “naming rights” happy in the mid 90s cutting lifetime deals with companies.  99% of those dot.coms had “lifetimes” measured by “one mississippi, two Mississippi” … no body ever got to ten mississippi before all the dot.coms not named Google, Amazon or Yahoo went busted   The only folks who profited from those “naming rights” fiascos were the signmakers.  Put’em up … take’em down … put up something else.

Wanna really good deal on a hardly used “Paige Sports Arena” sign?  I can put you in touch with the Mizzou AD.

When ABC broke the “Paige is a cheating bimbo” story the Lauries checked first hoping it might be a Dan Rather bogus deal (nope, wrong network) then I assume they called Paige into the den and “had a little talk with her”.  It musta went down something like Ma and Pa Haskell asking Eddie if he stole the mayor’s car and knocked over the Confederate soldier statue on the Town Square … with the car and AND the statue’s arm sitting in the Haskell’s driveway with Eddie still at the wheel.  It was Habeas Corpus and it was Paige’s corpus that was clearly habeased.

In full damage control mode, Rob and Nancy “decided” to give up their naming rights … the Mizzou curators rather quickly grabbed them back … renaming the building The Mizzou Arena (Ricky Clemons Arena was their 2nd choice, or so a friend in Lawrence told me). … so now all is well in Columbia Missouri … well, not quite.

It seems a wealthy benefactor donated a few million to Mizzou a couple of years ago to fund a “Chair” in Economics … that benefactor (folks, again, Ol’ BobLee is shooting straight with you) … Ken Lay!

Say Good Night Gracie … and add a Great Googly Moogly.

Yes, of course, Paige Laurie is honorary Homecoming Queen at KU!


 Swagger’s Stumper

(Is everyone watching the traditional holiday Bond-athon?)

Diamonds Are Forever … the names of the two kung fu chicks by the pool?


   We hear UNC has a similar “out” with Ye Olde Legend’s name on their arena.  Dean’s Dome becomes Dickie’s Dome if Dean ever even thinks about voting Republican.  It’s a safe bet. 

   Kansas City holds many fine memories for me and Mizzus.  Enough has stayed the same over 25 years to rekindle those memories.

   BobLee reunited with dear friend Jerry Agar and did an hour of incredibly interesting radio chat on KC’s KMBZ Friday morning.  I declared Jerry as “the player to be named later” in the Roy Williams trade.  A Jayhawker called in … we bleeped the sumbitch. Hehehehehe!

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