The Kansas City Wizards announced today (to fans that somehow missed a week's worth of online reports) that the club is changing its name to Sporting Kansas City. Team officials assure us that this is, in fact, a name.
The moniker doesn't come with a mascot or a nickname, but "Sporting" team names have a long history in Europe and South America. Just don't accuse the team trying to sound foreign the way other Major League Soccer franchises have. Even if they are.
"I think some people might think that maybe we're just taking a
different name to try to sound European, but that's really not the
case," Dave Borchardt of the team's communications department says.
What the name change marks, Borchardt says, is the ownership group
(which will change its name from OnGoal to Sporting Club to be equally
vague) trying to create a promotable brand and possibly add more sports teams to its holdings.
ownership group, they feel like this brand has more potential to be a
regional draw and a national draw and even an international draw to some
extent. And I think they feel like it has a better chance to be a
strong brand like that more than the Wizards," Borchardt says.
With a lengthy
name and no mascot or nickname, though, Sporting Kansas City is too brand-y. And who wants to cheer for a
brand? It sounds like a corporate entity. Screaming "Go Sporting Kansas
City!" isn't nearly as satisfying as screaming "Go
Chiefs!" or "Go Royals!" Try it right now.
Even referring to Sporting Kansas City is
going to be tricky. The team sheepishly admits it's unsure what fans
will call it. "Manchester City, [fans] just call them City. Maybe they
just call us Kansas City or Sporting. People will make it their own, and
we'll see what nicknames will come," Borchardt says.
fans come to some kind of consensus, rooting for SKC (I'm making a stand
and refusing to write the whole thing anymore) is going to be clumsy. Some kind of tangible symbol feels necessary for such a major
transition. Maybe fans will be inspired by Sporting Clube de Portugal, a Lisbon soccer
club, which has a lion on its crest, or fellow Portuguese
team Sporting Braga, which goes by the Archbishops. Even cheering for Catholic bigwigs is better than cheering for an empty logo.
of the new logo, it's icy and sharp and looks like it would be perfect
on Robocop's car door, or a stick of Gillette deodorant. And, as
many supporters have pointed out online, it's awfully similar to logo for
MLS' Eastern Conference
which also has stripes on the left side and two shades of blue. In
fact, the similarity is so close, some discussion boards deemed a leaked
image of the SKC logo so close to the eastern division one, they
thought it was joke.
But it isn't a hoax, and despite plenty of
online pissing and moaning, the team thinks fans will stick with them into the SKC
"I hope people don't take it as a personal thing. It's just
more of a business decision. I've heard Robb [Heineman, the team
president] say this is a second chance to make a first impression,"
But a lot of people, especially the now-homeless pack of blue-clad,
neck-vein-popping fanatics sitting in The Cauldron, thought the
first impression went just fine.