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NIKE GETS BURNED AS MLS' CHICAGO TEAM PICKS FIRE OVER RHYTHM
Published October 9, 1997
MLS's Chicago expansion franchise announced yesterday that it will be called the Fire, but an "entirely different name, the Rhythm, was all but set in stone earlier this year," according to Bonnie DeSimone of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The Rhythm had been conceived by Nike, which held the first option to be the team apparel supplier. The name was approved by the league office and the Rhythm logo and colors had already appeared on merchandise in soccer catalogues. But team Owner Philip Anschutz and President Bob Sanderman "balked at the name." Fire GM Peter Wilt: "We were getting tremendous pressure from the league to pick a name in short order. They wanted to make sure that they could get merchandise out in time for the first year. But I said I'd rather lose one year in merchandise sales than spend a lifetime with a bad name." Although "some feathers were ruffled at Nike," the company "decided to stick with Chicago" but told team owners that they had to come up with their own name and design. Nike Soccer Sports Marketing Manager Steve Scott: "[W]e thought Rhythm was going to cruise in. Our apparel graphic and design process is so involved, we didn't have the time or resources to do it again at that point." The Fire's logo is a facsimile of a fire department badge (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/9). The team's colors will be red, blue and silver. Nike and All Sport are the club's first two sponsors. The team also announced that Henry Cardenas, of Chicago promotion firm Cardenas- Fernandez, will serve as its liaison to the Hispanic community (Len Ziehm, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/9).