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Scalar tensions in urban toponymic inscription: The corporate (re)naming of football stadia

Medway, D and Warnaby, G and Gillooly, L and Millington, Steve (2018) Scalar tensions in urban toponymic inscription: The corporate (re)naming of football stadia. Urban Geography. ISSN 0272-3638

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Abstract

This article examines issues of scale in urban toponymic inscription. The specific focus of inquiry is toponymic commodification, whereby corporate brand names of international scope are imposed on English football stadia and their locally embedded fan communities. We employ primary data relating to three football clubs in the Greater Manchester conurbation, all of which have sold their stadium naming rights to corporate entities. Drawing on fans’ perspectives, our findings initially surface the scalar tensions arising from such occurrences. We explore how football club authorities attempt to manage these tensions; first through efforts to embed corporate names into the fabric of urban communities, and second by using commemoration to valorize notions of the ‘local’ for their fan base. The article concludes by discussing how our findings deepen understanding of critical toponymies, particularly in terms of theorizing scale and shedding light on the workings of neoliberal agendas for controlling urban space.

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