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Philadelphia Union already needs a makeover

We’re nine months from first kick and I’ve already got a complaint about the new Philadelphia MLS team.  Philadelphia Union?  Hell, even a simple FC Philadelphia sounds better.  I’d also settle for Philadelphia Athletics or Philadelphia 1776.  Unfortunately, the massholes already took Revolution but surely there’s a better name than Union.  When I watch the beautiful game, I don’t want to be reminded of hard work, The Jungle, or Frank Sobotka.

“We were determined to create an identity that portrays Philadelphia’s vital role in the evolution of our nation – the Union,” said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “Every element in our crest represents a product of unity. Our fans have proven they possess the type of passion that soccer is known for worldwide, and the culture of our organization will always be to embrace it. There isn’t a single better example of the collective strength we are striving to achieve than the inception of the United States of America.”

Hey, I love history (well, The History Channel) as much as the next guy but  all that talk about original colonies and historical significance is just PR nonsense.  If you want to know the truth, the one that (hopefully) translates into dollars,  take this quote from PU chairman Jay Sugarman:

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have fans who understand the power of loyalty and unity, and our team identity draws its inspiration from them and from the importance these qualities have played in the history of Philadelphia.”

And that, folks, is the real marketing message of the team identity.  I know that Philly is known as a “tough blue collar town” but isn’t it pandering just a little bit to name the new soccer team the Union?   The Philadelphia Union is trying to attract the 700 level fans / the lunch pailers / the average Joes.   But you know what?  To paraphrase Christian Slater, in perhaps the worst in-booth appearance in the history of televised sports, “I have friends who know average Joes.”   The average Joe thinks that soccer sucks.

I know the Philly Union has done a ton of market research on naming the team (hey, at least they didn’t pull a Houston 1836) but just once, I’d like to think that this city is moving ahead.  That the easy sales pitch isn’t just to the guys hanging out at the bar in Invincible.  It’s the marketing equivalent of mentioning booing Santa Claus whenever someone writes an article about Philly fans. (Ahhh crap, I just did it again.)

Listeners of Poor Man’s PTI know that I’m a terrible elitist, but the type of fan that the Philly Union should appeal to are the ones who make the Seattle Sounders the biggest success story in MLS.  When Seattle was awarded a MLS franchise, founding partner Joe Roth said, “Seattle is the perfect city for a Major League Soccer team. The fans are supportive, progressive and open-minded — just what this great international sport needs.”

The Philly “four for four” fans (Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, Sixers), god bless em, have never been collectively called “progessive” and/or “open-minded.”  Targeting the same fans will get you nowhere. What we (I’m already using we for our soccer team) need to do is to get out of this whole “blue collar” fan mode.  I’m sick of it.  Hey, we white collar types can be just as passionate as anyone when it comes to Philly sports. It’s ok to eat sushi, drink wine, and attend a sporting event. (Or is that only on the west coast?)

Today was the deadline to convert my Founding Member deposit into season tickets so I’m now a 5 for 5 guy (yes folks, by having both Sixers and Union season tickets, I’m supporting the 4th and 5th most popular franchises in Philly.  You figure out in which order.)  and I’m referring to our MLS franchise as the Cheesesteaks from here on out in protest.

This town deserves a better class of criminal sports fan.  And I’m gonna give it to them.

By Vin

Vin is a Philly boy who shouldn't be invited into your house because he'll judge you on your book and music collection. He owns Dawkins, Utley, Iverson, and Lindros jerseys, which is all you really need to know about him. He can be reached at [email protected]

9 replies on “Philadelphia Union already needs a makeover”

Speaking of Union, there was a controversy at trivia last night. The question was “Who was the only US President who was previously the president of a labor union?” The answer is Ronald Reagan, who had been the president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Some douche comes up and starts berating the trivia jockey about how Ulysses S. Grant should also count, since he was the head of a Union, the Union Army. The guy got belligerent and insisted that Grant should count. So I told the jockey to remind him the Lincoln was the head of the Union, not Grant. The guy got pissed and left.

Fucking people.

I guess MLS won’t be satisfied until they’ve passed the NBA for most useless franchises.

That being said, Philly needs a soccer team.

5 for 5 is the way to be. About the Union name and marketing, you’re way over-reacting. Since when are “loyalty and unity” a bad thing? And how do you get blue-collar from that? I’m a white collar worker, but I’m all about loyalty and unity and don’t see anything wrong with a blue-collar mentality broadly construed anyway.

I’m reading between the lines on the “union” thing.

They clearly are targeting the joe lunchpail crowd, which I think is simplistic and misguided.

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