MLS Expansion - The Seattle naming conspiracy
Last week saw the three 'focus group' names leaked to the local Seattle paper. Sure enough, a majority of Seattle fans were upset because none of the names were the Seattle Sounders.
In response to this negative reaction, MLS Commish Don Garber insists that although he respects the value and history of the 30-year-old Sounder name, the league is looking for a name that will still be meaningful '20 years from now or 50 years from now.'
I noticed two things about this statement. First, it doesn't make sense. How can a name with a 30-year track record be thrown overboard for a name that has been 'focus group' tested for only a couple months? Second, why is it that the commish is making this statement and not the ownership group? When the name controversy raged in Houston a few years back, it was Houston President Oliver Luck that faced the press, not Garber.
Anyway, we move forward to the actual voting. After making such a big deal about Seattle FC, Seattle Republic and Seattle Alliance being the best names ever they do something very interesting with the ballot and allow people to write-in a name. Since they already allowed people to submit names months ago, why allow this second round of 'write-in' ideas?
Perhaps this is the reason:
Fans will be allowed one vote per unique email address. MLS Seattle season ticket holders will be given the privilege of receiving the same number of votes as deposits purchased.And this brings me to the conspiracy. Could it be that the Seattle group decided to manufacture a bit of controversy to increase their email and season ticket lists?
If Sounders had been one of the three 'approved' choices, no one would have paid much attention as it would be a forgone conclusion that it would win, but since it was not there, people got angry and tuned in. This added attention is all but assured to increase the vote (ie submitting email addresses) because no one seems very interested in the three official choices. Also note how you can buy additional votes with a season ticket deposit.
Which brings us to the announcement of the name on 7 April. Since none of the Seattle ownership group have dissed the 'Sounders' title, they will have no need to back pedal as they say 'Due to an overwhelming show of support by the soccer fans of Seattle, we are pleased to announce the Seattle Sounders as our 'new' name.'
In the end, the fans feel they have won a victory by getting the name they've wanted all along while the owners come out looking good for actually listening to the fans, plus they will have all those email addresses for future marketing purposes.
So is this off the wall or might I be on to something? I will be the first to admit that I have no real proof of this, but something does seem off.