Maryland Avenue becomes Tiger Avenue

The Alumni Association wanted a name with a stronger meaning for MU.
A street sign stands on the corner of Maryland and Conley avenues. Maryland Avenue was changed to Tiger Avenue in a unanimous City Council vote Tuesday.

The Columbia City Council unanimously approved a proposal Tuesday to change the name of Maryland Avenue, a street that runs through the middle of MU's campus, to Tiger Avenue.

Supporters of the name change said the new name will emphasize a stronger MU identity for the main thoroughfare and help MU's branding effort, but some students complained the new name lacked originality. It also requires an address change for the students living in properties on the street.

The name change is effective immediately. MU spokeswoman Ana Compain-Romero said the Mizzou Alumni Association has paid Campus Facilities to produce new street signs using leftover funds from the recent installation of new, MU-themed street signs.

“There won't be (an additional) cost to the university,” she said. “We're very lucky.”

The council approved the name change, even though there's a street named Tiger Lane about four miles from campus.

City staff was concerned that 911 dispatchers would mistakenly send emergency services to the wrong street but ultimately decided there was no significant risk of this happening, Director of Planning and Development Tim Teddy said.

“What's a little different in this case is that the 'tiger' name is so strongly identified with the university, it's hard to imagine that that street name would only be allowed at an off-campus location,” Teddy said.

He also said the address ranges for the two streets were different -- the buildings on Tiger Lane have addresses that range from 300 to 400 north, while on Tiger Avenue the buildings are all numbered above 600, making it easier for emergency operators to distinguish between the two.

Documents submitted to the mayor and council before its vote Tuesday included letters supporting the proposal from six property owners, but some students living along the street weren't as enthusiastic about the name change.

“It's kind of a trivial thing,” senior Chelsea George said. “(MU already has) tiger this and tiger that.”

George, who lives on Tiger Avenue, will have to change her address to reflect the new name. She said her major problem with the situation was that the date the new name became official was not well publicized. She said she doesn't know when she needs to change her address, and she's concerned important mail might be delayed.

The change might be sudden for students, but Jay Dade, a member of a group of past Alumni Association presidents called The PRIDE, said the name change had been in the works for a while.

“The university approached us a little more than two years ago,” he said.

Compain-Romero said The PRIDE wanted a name to better represent the avenue's important role in transportation through MU.

“(They) have sort of bounced around this idea over the past years that it was odd that the main thoroughfare to the heart of campus was named after another state,” she said.

Dade said members of The PRIDE researched the significance of why the street was called Maryland Avenue, eventually concluding the name had no historical importance.

“What we found out is that there was no tie to a student or professor or alum (sic) or friend of the university,” Dade said.

In May 2009, the group gave MU several recommendations for names that could be used to rename Maryland Avenue, and MU eventually settled on Tiger Avenue. Dade said the name change stresses the street's symbolic importance, because it links Jesse Hall and MU's academic buildings with its athletic facilities using the name that is most closely associated with the university.

“Tiger Avenue works, in our opinion, because it captures two great traditions about the university,” Dade said.

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