76 GAS STATIONS HEADED TO HOUSTON, TRYING OUT DYNAMO SOCCER STRATEGY Orange-logo’d gas station brand 76 has bought naming rights to an entrance gate at the Dynamo’s stadium in East Downtown, despite not having any stations in the Houston area — but a company rep on the chain’s Facebook page says there will be a few popping up around town soon. Phillips 66, which owns the 76 brand (and which also bought the naming rights last fall to a soccer stadium in Warwickshire County, England), made a deal in February to let Saudi-Aramco-and-Shell-owned Motiva use the brand in Texas and other Gulf Coast and eastern states. Currently most of the brand’s stations are in California and Washington — though a scattering of 76 stations are now marked on Google Maps on top of some existing Phillips 66 and Conoco stations. [Houston Dynamo, Convenience Store News] Photo of Dynamo’s stadium in East Downtown: BBVA Compass Stadium
The double hypodermic needles atop the Cesar Pelli-designed O’Quinn Medical Building have just gotten brightened up: a lighting designer from FUSE sends Swamplot these bare-all shots of the Madonna tower’s roof following the company’s just-wrapped installation of a new LED setup around the tips. Down below, Texas Children’s Hospital announced earlier this week that it has bought the tower from Baylor-slash-St.-Luke’s, along with a Baylor outpatient clinic down the street. Texas Children’s told the Chronicle that it isn’t planning to boot tenants until they can move into that under construction campus on Cambridge St., somewhere around 2020.
Nor does the new owner have plans to change the tower’s name right away — though many of the physicians who petitioned against the building’s O’Quinn christening in 2005 aren’t likely to mind if they do. At the time, dozens of doctors signed a document insisting that the current namesake, Houston’s own John O’Quinn (of fen-phen and breast implant lawsuit fame), “bears partial responsibility for the litigious environment in which we work,” and that it was offensive “to have money we earned — and which he took by suing us — going to name after him a medical building in which we work every day.”
The sunset shot above looks west across the Rice campus (that’s the stadium that played backdrop to JFK’s go-to-the-moon speech, given 54 years ago this past Monday, on the right above the octagonal base); the itty-bitty silhouette of the distant Williams Tower can be seen poking up from the horizon on the left. Here’s the tip itself, so close you can almost see the filament in the flashing bulb:
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Feeling Shiny and New on Fannin
In response to word from the Chronicle‘s Dug Begley this week that the Red Line’s Reliant Park light-rail stop might get its station name updated to an even older name, a Swamplot reader jumps on the case with a system-wide list of potential station name changes that might remain unaffected by the sale, rebranding, or demise of any nearby venues or landmarks. Begley notes it could cost Metro around $486,000 to change the Reliant Park stop’s signage. The agency says it would prefer to make the switch at the same time as 2 other station name changes currently under consideration (if they’re approved) — but not until after the Super Bowl, for which a set of cheaper temporary stickers will be deployed to help visitors find NRG Stadium.
The reader, in the spirit of Houston’s budding redesign-it-yourself urban planning scene, suggests that paying up now to swap out all the names that might become a problem later might actually be a long-term cost-saver. The proposed scheme makes sure every station name mentions a cross-street (or maybe a bayou), and keeps some references to existing transit centers, parks, or neighborhoods.
Here’s the full list of suggested switch-outs, separated by rail line, with the current names on the left:
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What’s In a Name
UH’S HOFHEINZ PAVILION COULD PICK UP TILMAN FERTITTA’S NAME That anonymous naming-rights-sized donation toward the redo of UH’s Hofheinz Pavilion looks to be coming from none other than local real estate mogul and reality teevee star Tilman Fertitta, writes Benjamin Wermund this week. The UH board of regents, which Fertitta also chairs, voted to authorize the basketball arena upgrade last fall after the donation was announced. Fertitta also helped the university navigate the subsequent lawsuit from the Hofheinz family over the potential renaming; the matter was eventually resolved by new plans to rename part of Holman St. and to erect a statue of late county judge Roy Hofheinz near by. Based on a chat with former Georgia Tech Foundation president John B. Carter, Wermund writes that the board “would have to vote to accept Fertitta’s gift and to name the arena after him. It’s not uncommon for members of university governing boards to give large donations to the colleges they represent, but board members who become donors should recuse themselves from any discussions or votes about granting them naming rights on a university building.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hofheinz Pavilion: University of Houston
Lou Minatti asks the $54 million question:
Why is Discovery Green a sea of brands? Waste Management, Inc. Gardens? OK, I understand the revenue issue. Are these naming rights perpetual?
Dunno about the perpetual part, but the list of brand and donor names on the new 12-acre Downtown park’s many features does go on and on! A few of our favorites: The Kinder Large Dog Run, the Martin Family Scent Garden, and the Marathon Oil Bike Racks.
Fortunately, Houstonian Kim Borja didn’t have to pay anything to choose the park’s name — he won the naming contest:
The response was overwhelming: more than 6,200 entries were submitted, and a theme soon emerged. Houstonians wanted a name that was distinctive and unusual, including elements that mirrored Houston itself. Words such as “surprising,” “unexpected” and “vital” were reoccurring.
If this place had ended up with a name like “Unexpected Gardens,” we’d all probably want there to be a serious donation behind it.
After the jump: that long list of Discovery Green’s branded park parts — plus: a few yet-unbranded park features may still be available!
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