The Full 90

Making Their Mark: The aesthetics of Sporting KC

The "Wizards" did more than change their name this week. Like a sale for a store going out of business, everything had to go: There’s a new logo, merchandising philosophy, crest, font, home and away kit, and color scheme.

"For us," OnGoal president Robb Heineman said, "keeping the status quo was never an option."

Out with the cobalt, in with the Sporting Blue. Here are the aesthetic changes that have taken a back seat to the name change.

On the "mark"and subtlety

The genesis of the new crest -- or mark as the team calls it -- began with a sketch on a napkin in 2005 before OnGoal even purchased the franchise. The team’s in-house graphic designer, Chad Reynolds, was trying to develop a concept that visually communicated something unique to this region: The state line that divides and unites Kansas City.

The idea sat around for a few years before it was brought back for the crest. And it sort of gets lost in the crest, a subtle flourish that becomes obvious when you realize it.

If you look closely on the left side of the new mark, you can see the invisible line that runs along the right edge of the horizontal stripes.* The stripes are the “Kansas” side and the dark field with the new logo are on the “Missouri” side.

*Those horizontal stripes have their own meaning: There are six light blue stripes (the color is “Sporting Blue” in the adidas catalogue) and five dark blue stripes (indigo) that bleed over from the “Missouri” sign as a subtle reminder that, even though the state line exists, it’s not always openly visible.

On the jersey, a stitch will run from the right shoulder across the chest to the badge over the heart, then straight down. This stitch will line up exactly with the state line on the mark.

"The badge is right over the heart," Reynolds said. "So, when Omar Bravo scores and goes running to the crowd clutching the badge, kissing the badge, he’ll be gripping the heart of Kansas City. He’s representing the heart of this city."

Snakes on a ligature!

On the right side of the mark is the most-talked about piece of the new crest: The “SC” ligature -- which some have equated to snakes involved in a romantic entanglement.*

*The SC, by the way, stands for “Sporting Club.” The soccer team is called “Sporting Kansas City,” and the parent group is “Sporting Club.” Why no “KC”? “ According to Heineman: “Just another KC? That’s the Royals deal, the Chiefs deal.” In other words, they weren’t going to figuratively “own” that type of brand.

The logo represents a lot to OnGoal. For starters, it’s a link to their parent company, Cerner. To them, in symbolizes health and wellness. Heineman says if you study it, you can see elements that are reminiscent of

the "Rod of Asclepius"
the Helenic statue “Winged Victory.”

The design, which comes from adidas’ creative team, was also inspired a lot by the Plaza. When adidas were conceptualizing the logo, OnGoal sent them to the Plaza to draw from the Spanish architecture down there;

specifically the buildings near the Cheesecake Factory.

A link to the past

In addition to the bars, state line and new ligature, the bounding shape is also a subtle nod to the past: It’s a near dimensional replica of the original “Wiz” shield from 1996.

The “Kansas City” and “Sporting” are in a brand new font created by adidas, called “Sporting Agency.” And, yes, it’s slightly awkward that the official nomenclature for the team is SPORTING KANSAS CITY but the crest read literally reads KANSAS CITY SPORTING. OnGoal wanted Kansas City visually represented on top in the crest.

If you are wondering where the star representing the teams’ 2000 MLS Cup victory will go, it will go above the crest. “It’s the most important moment in the history” of the franchise, Heineman said.

Say goodbye to cobalt blue with yellow piping and hello to “Sporting Blue” and indigo

Sporting KC will be the only MLS franchise without a white jersey. The home kit is blue, the away kit is blue.

“Adidas wanted us to have a white kit,” Cotton said. “But we resisted. We are a blue team.”

Of course, that didn’t stop them from exploring other options, including some “unusual” combinations, Cotton said. Thankfully, “calmer heads prevailed.”

The home kit will be “Sporting Blue,” which is a light blue designed specifically by adidas for the team. No other MLS team will wear a shade like it. (Colorado will have a different shade of blue next year. Cotton also said there was a bit of a discussion with Vancouver, who really wanted to use it as an accent color. Kansas City won that discussion.) The six horizontal bars in the mark are this color. New designated player Omar Bravo debuted this kit on Wednesday night.

The away kit will be indigo, which is a much darker shade, and is the background field of the new mark. It was debuted on the back of Jimmy Conrad on Wednesday.

Both kits have adidas’ signature three-stripes on the shoulders and the state-line stitch on them, but are a few differences in kits. The “home” or “primary” kit has a collar, the “away” kit does not. The "away" kit also has the ligature filigreed into the "Missouri" side of the stitch. A good view of it is

here courtesy of The Back Post


The merch... What about the merch?

A common complaint that I’ve heard through the years: Where do I buy team’s gear? This has been a problem. At the new stadium, there will be four team stores, one of them a general store that will be open during non-game days.

The team is also planning on -- with the help of adidas -- some merchandising options that other MLS teams don’t have. The details, of course, were sketchy at the present. Mostly because, according to Cotton, are taking the slow boat to the States. (But, think of merch targeted at specific segments of fans like young people and women.)

Heineman says the options available will be “broad” and will be available throughout retailers in Kansas City.

Can you still call them the Wizards?

While Heineman and OnGoal would prefer if you called them “Sporting Kansas City,” they don’t plan on stopping any of the fans from calling the team “Wizards.” Just don’t expect them to officially embrace that.

Miscellany that has fallen through the cracks

• The team will open the new stadium (by all means, go take

the virtual venue tour!

) on June 9th. It will be a Thursday night, ESPN game. That’s what KC and ESPN want, whether MLS delivers is TBA. The opponent is also TBA.

• There will be no neutral-site games as previously speculated/reported. There will also not be a game at Arrowhead.

• This means that the team will have 9-straight road games to open the season. Of course, this is all pending MLS approval. We’ll know more next week.