An excerpt from Sam’s Branch Essays, a book I am working on.
I despair at the commercialism that causes ball parks and bowl games to be named for whatever company puts up the money. Poor Watt Powell. It’s getting as bad as public radio and television having “corporate sponsors”—-some a little short of criminal in their own operations and/or tearing the environment limb from limb.
In the spirit of incorporating everything once holy in America, I offer the following possibilities: Counties and towns in West Virginia could seek “corporate sponsors” and endure such name changes as, Amazon.com Cabell County, Toyota Putnam County, Arch Coal Logan County, and Wampler Moorefield. Mudsuck and Big Ugly will have a hard time finding a buyer. West Virginia could become The National Coal Association West Virginia. This could catch on.
Actually the corporate naming is just a continuation of the tradition of naming towns and counties after robber barons. In the old days companies were often dominated by one aggressive and greedy capitalist. Thus towns got named Davis, Elkins, Huntington and Itmann (for I. T. Mann) and streets for Camden and Ruffner. Towns like Junior were named for robber baron children. In the past we didn’t charge for the free advertising.
However, we must be careful–the legislature might try to continue the tradition of giving away the store. In keeping with the super tax credits and the decision to pay NASCAR for giving them free advertisement on license plates, the legislature will probably offer to pay the National Coal Association for the privilege of connecting their name to West Virginia. After all “West Virginia is Coal” you know.
 The name of an old baseball park named for a man who organized the first baseball teams in the Kanawha Valley.