FC Tampa Bay Acquire the Rights to “Rowdies” Name
Edited 10:00 a.m.
They were once the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Then a trademark lawsuit forced the professional soccer team to drop the name Rowdies and just go with FC Tampa Bay. Today the team will announce they are getting their traditional Rowdies name back, along with a new retro logo.
The FC Tampa Bay, the division 2 pro team that plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL), will announce this morning that it has acquired the name “Rowdies” from Classic Ink Inc. who have legally held the name. Classic Ink, a sports apparel company out of Texas who own the rights to numerous defunct teams, challenged the use of the name over 3 years ago.
When the fledgling Tampa Bay team opened shop in 2008 as FC Tampa Bay Rowdies, Classic Ink filed a trademark infringement against the team’s owners, Citrus Ventures, in Texas Northern District Court in April 2009. After negotiations, the team changed its name to FC Tampa Bay in October of 2010 and removed all instances of the Rowdies name, including on their apparel.
Meanwhile Andrew Nestor, co-owner of the team and president, had stated as did Hinds Howard, Chairman of Citrus Ventures, that the team would negotiate to eventually get their name back.
The Rowdies name was used by the 1970’s NASL team that eventually folded after the league did the same in the mid ’80s. The original NASL drew world-renowned soccer stars with big crowds. Because the Rowdies name holds fond memories for many, not only from Tampa but around the nation, the team had desired the name from its inception.
In the spring of 2011, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, formerly Miami FC who also play in the new NASL, went through a similar rebranding using the old team name but with a new logo with a retro feel. With the rebrand in the South Florida area and a renewed marketing campaign, the team had its best season ever, both in terms of success on the field and attendance.
On Thursday morning FC Tampa Bay will introduce a new retro logo with the Rowdies name and will be updating its website, Facebook page and Twitter account. The team will also go about the business of taking advantage of their new name change by making Tampa Bay Rowdies products available immediately after the announcement.
The deal is believed to be a lease of the trademark name and possible future ownership of the “Rowdies” name.
The press conference on Tuesday will included: NASL Commissioner David Downs, City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City of St. Petersburg Managing Director Joe Zeoli, Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins, St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission Director Kevin Smith, and Steve Nadel of the St. Petersburg Baseball Commission, along with current and former Tampa Bay soccer players.
Official Tampa Bay Rowdies press release:
Citrus Sports Group, LLC, the ownership group of FC Tampa Bay, today announced that the team name will be changed from FC Tampa Bay to the Tampa Bay Rowdies starting immediately for the 2012 season and beyond.
Citrus Sports Group reached an agreement with Texas-based Classic Ink, Inc. giving Citrus Sports Group immediate exclusive rights and future ownership of the Rowdies trademark.
“The Rowdies name has been synonymous with the highest level of professional soccer in the Tampa Bay area for decades,” said Citrus Sports Group President Andrew Nestor. “We are thrilled to bring it back for soccer fans in Tampa Bay, around the country and around the globe. The Rowdies were Tampa’s first ever pro sports franchise and claimed Tampa Bay’s first pro championship in 1975 winning the NASL Championship. We are appreciative of Classic Ink and their willingness to work with us on this agreement.”
The club unveiled today a new primary team logo, which prominently features the word Rowdies and is a direct link to the original Rowdies logo. The team’s new website will be located at RowdiesSoccer.com. The team will unveil new uniforms and secondary branding leading up to the 2012 season.
The Rowdies are a men’s professional soccer team who enter their third season of play next April as part of the North American Soccer League (NASL). The original Tampa Bay Rowdies came to Tampa in 1975 as an expansion team in the North American Soccer League (NASL). From 1975-1984, the Rowdies were one of the most successful teams in the NASL – winning the Soccer Bowl Championship in 1975 and reaching the finals in 1978 and 1979.
On June 19, 2008, a group of investors led by Nestor, David Laxer, and Hinds Howard purchased the rights to a professional soccer franchise and officially brought pro soccer back to Tampa Bay. The new team began play in April 2010, promising to honor the history of the original Rowdies, while at the same time establish their own history and traditions.