I’m sitting on the lower deck at Mozart’s right now, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a local coffee shop on Lake Austin with beautiful views and damn good iced mochas.
I won’t be out here much longer, it’s excessively hot outside and even though I’ve lived in Austin my whole life, I’ve never embraced the daily summer temperatures of 102 degrees.
In any case, I never thought I’d be here. Not at Mozart’s – I go relatively frequently – but writing a story on possible names for a Major League Soccer team coming to Austin. I never thought I’d see the day Austin would get a professional sports team at the highest level and it’s still mind-blowing that it’s coming into fruition.
With that said, let’s just dive right into the various potential monikers Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) could end up choosing, in no particular order. Some of these are on the list only so I can explain why they won’t be chosen. Here goes:
Why it could work: Brand recognition. The Crew dates back almost a quarter of a century, one of the oldest remaining teams in the MLS. They’ve won an MLS Cup once, a Supporters Shield three times, and the Eastern Conference three times. Sure, the brand may not carry the same weight as the scripted “A” of the Alabama Crimson Tide, but it’s still recognizable in the soccer world and maybe, just maybe, the team could keep a few fans from Columbus engaged. Oh, and it’d certainly save millions of dollars in rebranding costs, new logos, jerseys, merchandise – new everything.
Why it won’t work: There’s a pretty heated rivalry between Austin fans and Columbus fans, and I don’t think Austinites want to be affiliated with what Columbus started. If Austin is going to get a professional sports team, they’re going to make it their own. It is the Weird City, after all. They’ll want Austin to be emphasized. No interest in copying and pasting Columbus’s style.
Probability: 2 percent
Why it could work: Did you know Austin once had a professional soccer team? Not an MLS team – don’t get it twisted -but a United Soccer League team. In fact, the Aztex were affiliated with the Columbus Crew and rebranded their colors and logos to complement their mother club. Die-hard soccer fans in Austin would remember the name and be eager to start supporting their old team once again.
Why it won’t work: This is like Austin getting an MLB team and naming it the Round Rock Express. We want to distance ourselves from any minor league affiliation. The new name needs to be big-time, it needs to have the feel of true professionalism. Taking an old minor league team name just wouldn’t get anyone excited. Also, it’s 2018. Pro teams are moving away from using ethnic groups as their mascots, whether or not it’s spelled in a different, lame way. This is Austin, after all, the social justice capital of Texas. Ain’t gonna happen.
Probability: 0.01 percent
AUSTIN FC/AUSTIN ATHLETIC
Why it could work: These two anticlimactic options regrettably check every box: professional, proven to work with fans, inoffensive/doesn’t take any risks – it’s a solid, safe option for PSV. The MLS actually registered these two trademarks in August of last year. The league claims the trademarks can be used for a variety of business purposes unrelated to naming a franchise, but we all know the truth – Austin FC (Football Club) is probably a frontrunner with Athletic close behind. Also, Los Angeles added a new club last year and named it – you guessed it – Los Angeles FC. Sigh. This may be the most likely option of all.
Why it may not work: Again, this is the Weird City we’re talking about. We’re not here to be like everyone else. We want something unique, not basic. I think it’s better to take a risk, go big or go home with Austin fans because the last thing locals want is to be bored.
Probability: 50 percent
Why it could work: Brand new MLS teams in Minnesota and Atlanta went the United route, and I suppose it’s worked out well for them.
Why it may not work: How many “United” teams does the MLS want? Also, boring.
Probability: 10 percent
Why it could work: Choosing a Southwestern name is stereotypical and keeps the Texas image of “ride your horse to work” alive and well, which I wouldn’t like, but for whatever reason, those names are still popular in the Lone Star State. The Houston Texans name is incredibly popular and we are a state of tremendous pride. No other state would use their denonym as a team nickname. Can you imagine the Pittsburgh Pennsylvanians? Only Texas can get away with a name like that.
Why it may not work: We can do better.
Probability: 1 percent
Why it could work: These are all state symbols, which is always an option in pro sports team names. We see it everywhere. However, these names probably won’t work out. The Armadillos are already a football team in Austin. Austin Community College recently picked up the name “River Bats,” which, for the record, is a fantastic name. It’s a damn shame our city college, that doesn’t actually field any sports teams whatsoever, chose the best damn mascot available. And Monarchs? Well, I suppose it’s available, but why name a soccer team after a butterfly?
Why it may not work: Doesn’t seem feasible or pragmatic.
Probability: 0.5 percent
Why it could work: This is another state symbol but I separated it from the previous listing because it’s slightly more probably than the others. It’s unique, directly affiliated with Texas, and certainly weird. I can think of some pretty cool uniform designs to go along with it. There are no other organizations with this name, so it’s up for the taking.
Why it may not work: I don’t know, I think I’ve talked myself into this name. I guess it’s kind of minor-league sounding, may not have that same professional vibe as an “Austin United” would, but hey, sue me for proposing an interesting name.
Probability: 0.1 percent
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Austin Pride, Austin Capitals, Austin Heat, Atlético Austin, Austin Cobras, Austin Jalapeños
Zach Mason is the managing editor of Capital City Soccer and a native Austinite. He’s spent most of his life pretending to care about the teams he covers, but found solace in the city’s first major league sports club. Follow Zach on Twitter.