What Are They Doing With The Balls?

| | | | | |

Everyone wants to know what's happening with the 76 Balls that are removed from their poles. Are they stored in a big warehouse? Turned into birdhouses or novelty boats?

Well, based on clues we're getting from petroliana enthusiasts and sign historians, the answer is much more chilling. The balls are almost certainly being shattered, because there is no further use seen for them. One source even suggests that ConocoPhillips is requiring station owners to document the 76 Ball's destruction with photographs.

Why won't anyone at ConocoPhillips discuss this matter with the mainstream press reporters who are calling them? Are they afraid that when we find out what's really happening to our beloved 76 Ball, they won't be able to contain our rage?

They should be.  

So Why Remove the Ball?

A few possible reasons why the famous ball is being removed.

#1 (and most likely) is that upon new ownership of an existing business, the new owner is required to comply with current ordinances within that local city. (Much like if you buy a home that has a floor furnace, the seller is required to replace the floor furnace with (at minimum) a wall furnace, just because of new laws put in place. In this example, the responsibility role is reversed)

That said, we can say that over the course of time, there has been loss of historical, high profile signage. In its replacement, new signage that is much lower profile, due to restrictions in current law. I'm sure if you open a new donut shop today and want to put up a new sign similar to the old Huge Donut in the air we are all so familiar with, your request will likely get denied.

The breakdown of why can include either a county or city ordinance that has height limitations, not to exclude the appearance and image it places upon the city.

I personally like the tall signs and miss many of them I remember from growing up. There nestolgic. In the case of the 76 ball, its also very helpful, especially when driving on the freeway and your needing to locate a gas station soon, you could always depend on looking for the rotating ball in the sky.

Which lends itself to another reason for being removed. Local competition. Complaints from other gas companies making claim to unfairness. Meaning they have had to comply with change in signage, why not Union76.

Lastly, another issue could be liability. Liability insurance IS NOT cheap in any respects. I know it tears a whole in my wallet every year.

The 76 balls have been around for along time, and like anything else that ages, maintenance is likely to be more frequent, which equals less profit. Granted, there's only a few of them remaining and wouldn't cost that much to maintain in comparison to what the gas companies make in profit.

It's sad to see them go. And, even though I've signed the petition to save them, odds are, there going to all be replaced, like it or not :(

Dan
Long Beach, Ca.