NEWS- Jack crash: Why UVA wants JPJ nickname-less
When 1948 UVA law school graduate John Paul Jones first set foot on the construction site of the arena that would bear his name, he must have made an impression. The construction crew liked him so much, a UVA spokesperson reports, that they began calling the new building what friends call Jones himself: Jack. Thus a new moniker was born, "the Jack."
The term of endearment seemed to be catching on when media outlets began using it to refer to the new 16,000-seat, $130-million basketball/entertainment venue. WINA sports director Jed Williams, who occasionally works for UVA, used the name several times on his daily "Best Seat in the House" radio program, and the Daily Progress even headlined a splashy feature on the new venue with the words "Here comes The Jack."
But just as the name was beginning to stick, UVA officials began applying a layer of semantic Teflon.
"Out of nowhere," says Williams, "I got an e-mail from UVA."
That e-mail came from Bill Hurd, assistant media relations director for UVA's athletic department. "Please do not refer to the arena as 'the Jack,'" said Hurd, speculating that the moniker might lead to other, possibly scurrilous nicknames.
UVA's top spokesperson Carol Wood says that while UVA has not issued an official decree to the media, the university has expressed some preferences. "I know that there was some concern about whether it was respectable enough for the person for whom it was named," says Wood.
Wood claims UVA's aim was not perpetual name-control, but rather to keep the John Paul Jones Arena nickname-free in its initial weeks and months of use.
"People would like a nickname to evolve organically, which is how nicknames usually happen," says Wood. "Our students haven't been in it yet, so there is concern that we don't jump the gun on naming it before people really have time to experience it."
In the meantime, UVA officials plan to hold name discussions, much the way UVA's football stadium was expanded to 60,000 seats nearly six years ago and officially re-christened with a triple moniker that indicates each donor-driven component: "The Carl Smith Center, Home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium."
"We had some very specific official language for sportscasters on first reference," says Wood. "It's very specific so sportscasters always use that when they're calling the game."
For his part, Fortune 400 benefactor Paul Tudor Jones, who donated $35 million to get the facility named for his father, says, "I'm less concerned about what fans want to call the building than what happens inside it."
With no official language yet chosen for the arena and with no UVA-sanctioned nickname in circulation, radio host Williams– who will be courtside at the new arena calling Cavalier women's basketball games– has decided to have a little fun.
"Right now we're calling it 'The Building that We Can't Call by that Moniker,' but the options are unlimited here," says Williams. "My favorites were 'The Pope,' 'The Vatican,' and 'The Da Vinci Dome.' Plus, 'The JPJ not on JPA.' There were some other funny ones that probably weren't quite appropriate for public consumption. Speaking of which, if not 'the Jack,' then what about 'the John?'"
As seen here in a UVA newsletter, the John Paul Jones Arena's construction crew had long and lovingly called their project "the Jack."
It's not named for the Led Zeppelin bassist or the father of the U.S. Navy, but it is named for the father of a wealthy 1976 UVA graduate
PHOTO BY WILLIAM WALKER
Mitsubishi Diamond Vision screens are part of the $7.5 million audio-visual system
PHOTO BY WILLIAM WALKER