MLS Union Weigh Adding Team Mascot, Put Feelers Out With Fan Survey
The MLS Union are contemplating adding a team mascot, "a step that could boost or diminish" the team's "rising image," according to Laura McCrystal of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Team officials in recent months have "used a survey and focus group to ask its fans about potential mascots." Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said, "When it feels right and we can do it in a first-class manner, we'll do it." McCrystal writes a new mascot could risk "alienating the dedicated fans who have helped routinely fill the 18,500-seat PPL Park in Chester." Of the 19 MLS teams, 15 currently have mascots. Sakiewicz said that discussions with EPL club Manchester United "inspired the Union to consider a mascot." Dave Raymond, the original Phanatic mascot of the Phillies, said that a mascot could play a role during a soccer match "because only 'a certain core group of fans' is focused solely on the outcome." He added that the rest of the crowd "wants entertainment ... and a mascot's ability to perform is more important than its appearance." But Temple Univ. assistant sports marketing professor Thilo Kunkel, who specializes in soccer branding, said it also is important for the Union to consider fans who "want their game to be more pure, so to speak, or to represent the game as it is played in Europe" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/11).