Monday, March 06, 2006

1836 Out, Dynamo In

Anyone who lives in Houston and the surrounding area has probably heard more than they want to about the short-lived name of 1836 that was initially selected for the city's new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise. Anyone who doesn't hasn't really missed anything.

But just to review... Back in December of 2005, the MLS announced the former San Jose, California, team would be moving to Houston with the new moniker 1836, named for the year the city of Houston was founded. Almost immediately, cries of "foul" arose from LULAC and other like-minded racial activist groups, who claimed the name was offensive to locals of Mexican ancestry (or current citizenship) because 1836 was also the year that Texas declared her independence from Mexico.

Quickly caving to the pressure for political correctness, the team announced it would soon be changing its name to something that more closely reflected the diverse nature of its new home city.

Well, after weeks of agonizing over possible names that would be as inoffensive as possible — weeks in which such names as the Toros, the Gatos, and other lame choices were rehashed and reconsidered) — a decision has finally been announced:
It's Dynamo, as in full of energy, a tribute to the city's ties to the oil, gas and other energy industries.

"Dynamo is a word to describe someone who never fatigues, never gives up," franchise president Oliver Luck said.
Doesn't sound like the description of a Houston-based pro sports franchise to me, but...

Initial reactions from Houston fans seems somewhat less than enthusiastic. Blogger Laurence Simon sums it up quite well:

"Developing a brand name and identity for a professional sports team is a pretty detailed process," MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said. "It can take a little longer than you expected, especially the legal process."

Apparently, one of the details in the process isn't "Figure out the demographics of your potential fan base and then test-market the name among civic leaders and focus groups to make sure it isn't patently offensive to them for some wacky revisionist-historical reason."

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