Recently, the naming rights for the Cincinnati streetcar have been in discussions by our city government as a new revenue source. The following is an opinion and concept that I previously submitted to the city. This blog is written to put my two cent in on the conversation.
The Cincinnati Streetcar name should reflect the city's heritage first. Sponsoring business(es) should play a secondary "Sponsored by:" roll. A few examples that come to mind are Fountain Square, Music Hall, the Museum Center and Art Museum. Each of these have many fine sponsors, but no commercial business name falls before the city-owned entity's name. To me, this formality suggests city/citizen ownership, rather than a naming-rights-for-income strategy and its perceived ties to insufficient funding and easy money.
That said, my vote is to give the Streetcar a name that derives from the area's historical German culture - something Rhineish. There are numerous colorful words from the Germanic languages that would be an interesting fit for our new downtown asset. My name submission strays from the German word for Streetcar: StraBenbahn. I personally like "Der Zug" (pronounced Zook) which translates to "The Train". Plus it starts with a Z. Zinzinnatians likes Zs.
Without a unique name for our Streetcar, it might as well be anywhere in the United States - even Cleveland! Lets give it a personality and tie it to our heritage. Let's make it feel like it belongs to our citizens first. Our Cincinnati chili is unique and a personal favorite, but giving naming rights for our Streetcar system to a private business is shortsighted.
City leaders...Make our new Streetcar uniquely Zinzinnati. Think of sponsorships secondarily...Maybe a symbolic pile of grated cheese and a few oyster crackers on top of Der Zug will suffice. Was denken Sie?
So much time went into this project. So many people pushed for it as the thing that was going to transform our city. So much infrastructure made way for it. So much money went into it. You would think that they would have put a little more thought into the name. Come on... "Cincinnati Streetcar?" At least the poor color choices will make the name less noticable on the cars.