Sacramento, California, and Graz, Austria | To look on the bright side, the name of the home ground of SK Sturm Graz may soon be shortened considerably. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked Graz officials to remove his name from the stadium by the end of this year given local protests of Schwarzenegger’s refusal of clemency last week for Crips gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams, who was executed Dec 13. The governor hails from nearby Thal, Austria, and authorized the former Stadium Liebenau’s renaming in 1997. “I trained there as a young man,” Schwarzenegger writes in German in his letter, faxed to Graz on Monday, Dec 19 (see full translation). “I had hoped that my international name recognition as an athlete and actor would in turn possibly make Graz more famous and increase its tourism business.”
In fact, Schwarzenegger now wishes to revoke use of his name for any city promotions; he also, he says in his letter, has returned the city’s ring of honor, received in 1999. “It is already in the mail,” he writes. Bernard Faustenhammer, Austrian consul general in Los Angeles, tells the Los Angeles Times that Graz politicians often invoke the Schwarzenegger name as a way to highlight their own causes: in this case, opposition to the death penalty, a view shared in much of Europe. Williams’s case had special resonance because he had developed an anti-gang message on death row, despite his conviction for four murders in 1979.