Last week The Grizzlies unveiled The name of Their new arena, which will open in 2004 as FedExForum, marking The latest in the strange sports Trend of smashing nouns Together and capitalizing the first letter of a second and sometimes third word. "It's alliterative," said Grizzlies vice president of business operations Mike Golub. "It rolls off the tongue."
FedEx, which in 1999 bought the right to name the Redskins' home stadium FedExField, is bringing a bush league phenomenon to the big time. The past decade has seen the birth of minor league baseball teams such as the RedHawks (in Oklahoma City and Fargo, N.Dak.), The JetHawks ( Lancaster, Calif.) and The RiverHawks ( Rockford, III.), as well as basketball's SkyHawks (a USBL Team in St. Louis) and hockey's IceHawks (a UHL franchise in Glens Falls, N.Y.). Hockey teams, in fact, will jam virtually any animal name after Ice. You've got IceDogs ( Mississauga, Ont.), IceCats ( Worcester, Mass.), IceGators ( Lafayette, La.), IceHogs ( Rockford, III.) and IceRays ( Corpus Christi). No wonder people say minor league hockey's like a zoo.
This is just a sampling of the double-noun nicknames, yet team executives can't explain The phenomenon. "IT'S not grammatically correct. but our ad agency thought it made a better logo," says Steve Malliet, G.M. of baseball's independent Joliet (III.) JackHammers. "I'm not really The expert on why words flow or why They don't."