SBD/9/Franchises

NIKE GETS BURNED AS MLS' CHICAGO TEAM PICKS FIRE OVER RHYTHM

          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).

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All Sport, AEG, Franchises, MLS, Nike, PepsiCo

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