|Wanted! A Name For A Coliseum
Puerto Ricos new coliseum is looking for a name. From the first digging of its foundation in Hato Rey, it knew that its walls would one day contain the cheers of fans, the clamor of conventioneers and the pitches of salesmen, but it never imagined that it would be left without a name.
After all, it was to be a "coliseum," an edifice derived from the Latin root word, "colosseus," meaning "gigantic." It was to be in the tradition of Romes Coliseum where beleaguered Christians faced wild beasts and Emperors held sway. It was to be to this Caribbean island as was the "Colossus" to the ancient Rhodes; a god, cast in bronze, straddling the entrance to its harbor.
But as the cement poured and columns rose, no signs were placed heralding the name of this lodestar for visitors to the island. This future venue for competition, reunions, celebrations and the arts was a non-entity, an "It." How could this be, it thought? How could this architectural jewel, this palace of beautiful lines, of welcoming rooms and of cozy interior spaces be left without a name.
Wake up baby!
This is Puerto Rico. Names are all about political status. Your spires are rising on an island that has not yet decided what it is. Rome knew. The island states of Rhodes knew. But Puerto Rico plays-games and names-names as an excuse for figuring it all out. Some think that, as a territory of the United States and as American citizens, Puerto Rico ought to be the 51st state of the Union. Others - a few only - want the island to become an independent nation. And then there is the "best of both worlds" crowd. They want everything that a state has and everything that a sovereign nation has and they want the U.S. Congress to give it to them.
When pigs fly!
But take courage, "Mr. It." You will eventually have a name. Already several are being vetted. The President of this islands Senate, Antonio Fas Alzamora, thinks that Puerto Rico is a nation and wants to name you the "Puerto Rico National Coliseum." The Governor, Sila Calderon, sometimes agrees with him about nationhood, but has spent a lot of time in Washington lately proclaiming how loyal she is to the United States and is squeamish as to how that "National" business will play on the Potomac. Besides, she thinks that a shorter name will be easier to market internationally.
If a compromise name is sought, you might become a monument to the late Felisa Rincón de Gautier, or "Dona Fela" as she was popularly known when she was a legendary Mayor of San Juan in the 1950s and 1960s. Puerto Ricans of all political stripes remember her fondly. Most other political icons already have buildings and airports named for them. One of them still waiting for a monument is Pedro Rossello, under whose administration as Governor the project began. But I suggest that you put that name out of your mind. As long as Ms. Calderons pen signs your birth certificate, Pedro will not appear as your Daddy.
Then again, you might suffer the same fate as have many of your brothers in the U.S. and carry the name of a corporate sponsor. How does the "Bacardi Coliseum" sound? Certainly there will be much of its product line consumed within your walls. Or what about "Pfizer Hall," maker of Viagra and other lifesaving drugs? The possibilities are endless in this area. Just look at the company names on trucks zipping by your unfinished facade. Any one of them could adopt you and bestow a surname on you.
In the meantime, dont feel too bad about the situation. The Government of the island on which you sit doesnt have its moniker exactly straight yet. Its name means one thing in Spanish and an entirely different thing in English. It keeps everybody happy. Before 1932 the island was known as "Porto Rico," and before that, the old maps called it San Juan de Porto Rico."
This week, readers of the Herald wish to help you. They will select among several alternatives for your name. We hope that you will be satisfied with the results. If not, dont worry about it. It is likely that in your lifetime you will go through many names. Its all a matter of checkbooks and politics.
Herald Readers! Pick a name for "Mr. It."