The Saint Paul Saints are as close as they've ever been to getting their wish for a taxpayer-subsidized stadium in downtown Saint Paul. This week, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman sent a $27 million request to state officials for bonding money for the stadium, and the early line seemed to be it had a good chance of making the cut.
So an announcement today about the Saints' latest irreverent marketing gimmick probably had some of the politicians who've stuck their neck out for the team cringing.
According to FoxSports North, the team will change the name from the Saints to the Aints as part of Atheist Night at the old ballyard.
"I think our message here and our brand of entertainment has always been one that's been inclusive," (Team GM Dave)Sharrer said. "When we were approached by the Minnesota Atheists, we felt like it was within our nature to be inclusive and certainly work with them to provide them the opportunity to provide their message in the same way that we have worked with hundreds and hundreds of faith-based groups over our 20 years here in St. Paul."
Sharrer said the promotion is "all in good fun." "This isn't about mocking or ridiculing any one belief," he said.
And, no doubt, many people will find it funny. But religious people tend to take matters of faith seriously, and it's nearly impossible to separate religion and politics. There's a fair chance an overblown national debate on this that should start in 3...2....1. You know the "Merry Christmas" vs "Happy Holidays" debate? It's going to be like that.
Marketing genius? Probably. It's what the Saints do. And it's pretty smart of the atheists to have the event to coincide with the Minnesota Regional Atheists Conference.
But it's not particularly astute politically and what with the intertwining of religion and politics these days, the idea risks costing the Saints a stadium.