The Full 90

Enthusiasm, confusion greets dawn of the Sporting Era

For good or for bad, the team is now called Sporting Kansas City (the first gerund-based sports franchise in America) and this move is currently the talk of the town.

I'm going to make a huge guess based on what so far has been my personal experience: If your co-workers/friends know you're a Wizards/soccer fan, they are going to want to bend your ear on the name change. Some want to crack a joke, some want a serious explanation of what the name means, some just want to gripe about it. So far, most of what I'm hearing has been negative.

But, at least they're talking. If you're deconstructing this, that was probably one of the side-effects that OnGoal was looking for: The whole town talking about a team the whole town never really talked about before. Even if it's negative. (You know, any press is good press?)

Last night, I took in the announcement at the Power and Light District. The mood was far more positive than I expected. There was great enthusiasm, especially after Omar Bravo and Jimmy Conrad were unveiled in the new jerseys, but the positive mood was far from the only reaction.

I talked to a lot of people about this decision and have seen the reactions run the gamut: Some liked the name, some would support the team regardless of name, some felt the name stunk and sounded too European, and some were just down-right angry.

The most interesting response I heard came from a handful of non-soccer fans who had the exact same response: "Huh? What do I call them now, the Sportings?" It's that fan, that possible one-time ticket-buyer, that the team will have to convert.*

*I take that back, the most ridiculous response that I read came in the comments of The Star's story yesterday, when someone claimed they would take back their deposit on the 2011 season tickets because of the name change. Really? You're gonna back out on the team ahead of the opening of the new stadium because of this?

The way I see it: The change is done. The ownership group -- who have done a fair amount of good for this team, most of that simply by keeping the team in Kansas City -- believes they are being innovative and trying to establish something different here in Kansas City.

Will they succeed? I don't know.

But I do know that this isn't the first time OnGoal has made a controversial decision that affected the potential stability of the franchise: Remember the controversy that stirred up when the stadium site moved from Bannister Mall to The Legends?*

*Here's their track record to date: OnGoal kept the team in KC. They are the only locally-owned team in KC. They've found a site for the stadium. They've started building the stadium. They've made moves to bring in players like Ryan Smith, Stephane Auvray and, now, Omar Bravo. The next step is to pick up results on the field.

It's their team, it's their money and it's their gamble. And, if it isn't successful -- and, for all those drinking the hate-flavored Kool-Aid, rebranding is probably best judged in hindsight, not foresight -- it's completely on the ownership group for taking this gambit. They're gonna have to sell this rebrand from this point forward. They might have to sell it pretty hard, based on my anecdotal experience.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the name, but I think it will grow on me. Also, there's absolutely nothing stopping ANYONE from calling the team "Wizards."

What are your thoughts now that you've had a night to sleep on the official name change?

Coming later today: A deeper look at the new logo, uniform colors and other miscellaneous rebranding information.

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