One thing you could be sure of at What's So Funny Stadium: Nowhere would you note the presence of our arch-rival, What's Not So Funny. Sure, people would request their products -- regular nachos, hot dogs that didn't have scabby Band-Aids under them -- but that wouldn't concern us. If we put up the cash for the naming rights to the stadium, you'd better believe we'd do what we wanted in there. It would be all about What's So Funny. Vain self-promotion is pretty much all we do around here, anyway.
Pepsi, the mom-and-pop soft-drink company that could, had similar dreams. Back in 2000, it worked hard all summer, saved its allowance and the money it made mowing lawns, and bought the rights to the new Denver basketball and hockey stadium for $68 million, christening it the Pepsi Center. This was a win for the little man everywhere, and Pepsi was free to enjoy its hard-fought victory. It peddled its wares inside the walls of that suburban-mall-like venue, advertised only Pepsi products, and generally enjoyed its sanctuary from any and all outside competition.
But now darker days have descended on the Pepsi Center. Big, bad Coca-Cola wants in on the action, and when the 2005 National Basketball Association All-Star Game rolls into town this February, Coke will penetrate the previously impregnable walls of the Pepsi Center like the Mongols invading China. As an official sponsor of the NBA, Coke is automatically included in the league's hyping of the All-Star game, much of which will take place at the Pepsi Center. So while Pepsi products will still be sold, the NBA will cover up conflicting advertisements and logos -- i.e., any that say "Pepsi" -- and break out the Big Red Machine in their stead. Essentially, Pepsi will be muscled out of the high-profile, nationally televised event.
How could such injustice exist in the world? How can Coke, the industry leader that holds a 44 percent share of its market, sleep at night after so blatantly bullying poor little Pepsi, the number-two soft-drink company with only a 32 percent share? Where are those WTO protesters when you really need them?
Such is the clout of the NBA. When they say "Jump," you say "How high?" Then they're like, "Six and a half feet." And then you're like, "Easy, NBA, I'm not one of your players; I'm only, like, 5'9". So chill."
And if the NBA can take out Pepsi, you can only imagine what else they have in store for D-town. Other NBA demands of Denver for the 2005 All-Star Game:
30 percent off check at all area Red Lobsters for NBA players and their families
Exclusive valet service at Pepsi Center by BzParking, brainchild of reinvented go-getter Jeff Bzdelik
Tight-lipped bitches for Kobe
Words "Mile High City" replaced with "704 Yao Ming High City" in all print media through 2005
Miniature cowboy hat, diamond-studded boots for NBA commissioner David Stern
As show of good faith in ongoing standoff, convince Dan Issel to release at least three injured hostages.