Mattress Mac Eyes Ballpark Naming Rights Deal

Self-professed huckster and Thoroughbred owner Jim McIngvale is hoping to stamp the name of Gallery Furniture store on Houston's two-year-old major league baseball field.

Formerly know as Enron Field, the Houston Astros paid the infamous oil and gas company $2.1 million to remove its name. The team and the company had a naming rights deal worth $100 million over 30 years.

Now McIngvale, 51, wants to fill the void, but only if--as any bargain hunter appreciates--the price is right. The Astros are asking $4 million for 28 years, or $112 million and McIngvale told the Wall Street Journal that's too much. He still believes he's in the game, however.

"My strategy is to sit and wait," he told the Journal.

The Astros apparently are holding out for a more "global name" to put on the $248 million ballpark. McIngvale told the Journal he's received calls from people offering $10,000 for him to drop his pursuit.

That's unlikely.

"If I decide I want to, no amount of money is going to stop me," he told the Journal.

McIngvale is no stranger to the naming rights and sponsorship game. To gain exposure for his 100,000 square-foot discount furniture store north of downtown Houston, "Mattress Mac" sponsored and renamed the former Jim Beam Stakes as the Gallery Stakes in 1999. The sponsorship lasted only one year. For the past two years, he's sponsored the post-season college football game called the Bowl.

McIngvale began buying Thoroughbreds in 1996. He was among the leading buyers at Keeneland and Saratoga yearling sales that year with 36 purchases worth $3.5 million. He's gone on to race seven stakes winners including grade III winner Laydown and grade III stakes-placed Ifitstobeitsuptome.