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FC Tampa Bay Acquire the Rights to “Rowdies” Name

2011 December 15
by Brian Quarstad

Edited 10:00 a.m.

New retro Rowdies trademark that Tampa Bay will use.

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.

Team logo that FC Tampa Bay used in 2011

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.

Original logo used by Tampa Bay. It was replaced with the logo above after the trademark claim by Classic Ink.

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.

47 Responses
  1. Soccer Boy permalink
    December 15, 2011

    I just hope the Stars stay the Stars and do not try and become the Kicks.

  2. Bart permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Well that will certainly ensure the total success of the St. Petersburg team for years to come! That was probably at a cost of a bottom shelf bottle of rose vino.

    Now let’s see if they can come up with enough caskets to post an LOC on their own!!

  3. yankiboy permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Whoah, Nelly! Break out the bubbly!!!

    If this move isn’t the magical abracadabra thhat my boy Strikers Return predicted it would be then I’m gonna be a little disappointed (but not too surprised).

    “New retro logo” like “modern but yet classic stylings”??? Some series of words kinda confuse me.

    I just hope that Tampa bay doesn’t start talking about 30+ years of history or some other silliness like that now that they are the Rowdies again.

    I find that incredibly annoying (much like my classic typos)…

  4. speedcake permalink
    December 15, 2011

    lol haters gonna hate.

    The only history we’ll talk about is the history that is relevant. Our old NASL days and what this club means to the soccer community in Tampa Bay.

    But it really is a “new” Rowdies set to, hopefully, forge a new history and create a new relationship with fans.

    The star stays though. 😀

  5. thesuperrookie permalink
    December 15, 2011

    I am happy they got the name. Lot’s of fans have said this will help change things in the stands and in the media. This is a good thing.

    However, when the Strikers changed their name over it was a huge party on the beach in FTL. I don’t know if this will be as big of a production and that is mildly disappointing, but this is a positive step in the right direction for the team.

    I hope they have more great news in the future.

  6. speedcake permalink
    December 15, 2011

    I don’t mind how they are doing it. They must have only recently worked out a deal and I don’t blame them for wanting to announce that they have the trademark asap instead of sitting on it for weeks.

    I believe they are planning to roll out the new uniforms and make a much bigger deal out of the pre season party they’ve held each year. Which is also perfectly fine.

  7. December 15, 2011

    In my mind the biggest different with the Strikers this past season, beside the fact that Traffic allowed them a larger budget, was the hiring of Tim Robbie, a soccer business veteran that is well respected within the community. It would be great if FCTB could latch onto a similar person with their organization. It would be money well spent.

  8. Beav permalink
    December 15, 2011

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CHANGE BACK TO THE KICKS!! PLEASE

  9. Strikers Return permalink
    December 15, 2011

    @BQ – Spot on with your comments about Tim Robbie. He was convinced to come aboard with the Strikers at the 11th hour, but even without a full off season to work with, he did a fantastic job commercially for the organization this past year. I look forward with great anticipation to what he and his team are able to accomplish this coming year. But you are absolutely right, getting the Rowdies name back was only step 1. Now they have to get to work taking full advantage of what they’ve acquired. Having someone as “dialed in” on all fronts as Tim Robbie, but in the Tampa St. Pete area would be a real coup, but it’s also a tall order. Is there anyone out there that fits the bill?

    @yankiboy – I’ve said all along that South Florida and Tampa/St. Pete had commodities that could make the job of attracting fans easier. Not every market has the advantage of a brand that is rich in American pro soccer history and tradition just lying around needing to be dusted off. I continue to stand be this statement – there is NO BETTER WAY to market pro soccer in South Florida than with the brand Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. We had a great start in 2011, and I think you’re going to be able to look back someday and see it was only just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come. I firmly believe that Tampa has the same situation – there can’t possibly be a part way to market American pro soccer in Tampa/St. Pete than with the Rowdies brand. Now get out there in the community, use what you’ve just acquired with as much support as you can this year, and I’ll go out on a limb with a guarantee – you’ll see at least 4,000/game average for the Rowdies this year, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it get to 4,500 or more. After that it takes time. Keep building.

    This is what had to be the first step in ensuring Tampa/St. Pete remains a viable market for NASL and willing to squash the USL attempts to steal it out from under them. Great job by Nestor, and I’d like to think the league played a part as well, because it is good for this league as a whole too. Congratulations to the Ralph’s Mob and the Rowdies fans. I hope this is a big enough sign for any that have been wavering in their support lately that the club is still committed to them. And of course, I can’t finish without saying just how awesome it is to FINALLY have back one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in the history of North American professional soccer — STRIKERS vs. ROWDIES — BRING. IT. ON.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. JXU permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Branding is a big deal, and I think it makes sense for almost any team playing in a league called NASL to use the original NASL team names (the names that people remember, anyway) – otherwise the marketing benefit of being a part of a league called NASL seems like it would be diminished.

  11. yankiboy permalink
    December 15, 2011

    ^Strikers Return: Over at the Wine Cellar (that would be my affectionate nickname for the Rowdies Front Office)–they had better get agressive with their marketing. ASAP. Coz when the USL club kicks off in USLPRO in 2013, they had better have built up as much momentum as possible coz they are probably going to need it; they are are going to be engaging in mortal combat, a fight to the death. I don’t see how that area can possibly support two franchises. I just don’t.

  12. yankiboy permalink
    December 15, 2011

    @speedcake: Gotta lot of love for you, Bro!!! Still gotta say that the only stars more fraudulent than the star above the current FC Tampa Bay logo are the ones found on the USMNT shield…:D

  13. Strikers Return permalink
    December 15, 2011

    @yankiboy – Agree 100%. Everyone with their justifications and excuses can just flush them. It’s NOT a coincidence that they chose Tampa. They saw it as a vulnerable target. For Rowdies fans, and by proxy fans of all NASL teams as we need the Rowdies, hopefully today is the shoring up of the defenses phase of the battle. Now it’s time to attack by putting the Rowdies brand front and center in the Tampa/St. Pete market. Gat the fans in the gate, give them a fun, enjoyable, and affordable game day experience, give them Strikers vs. Rowdies in a BIG WAY for all of us who remember and smile at the thought, and you’ve got the foundation you can keep building from. If the Rowdies make this season a success with the revival of the brand and a concerted effort with the fans and on the field, they can make it financial suicide for that academy to try and move up from PDL.

    I think it’s probably possible for the USL team to survive and the Rowdies to be unaffected if that team stays at PDL. Who knows, maybe someday there could even be some relationships built between the academy and the Rowdies. But two pro teams in the area won’t survive, there’s just not enough fans for two minor league pro teams to stay afloat financially. Today the Rowdies have put themselves in a position to make it meaningless – IF – they follow through and do things right. Then Rowdies fans will be in the same boat Strikers fans were last year when the rumors came around that USL wanted to put a team in our backyard. We scoffed. Let them try. You’re not competing with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers for pro soccer fans in South Florida, especially Broward and Palm Beach Counties. No chance in hell, especially after the success of this year. I’d be willing to bet Rowdies fans would tell you the same thing for their side of the penninsula.

  14. yankiboy permalink
    December 15, 2011

    ^Those folks over at the Wine Cellar had better be listening to Strikers Return. Yall need to hire him as a consultant. Let him him jump into the vat and stomp on some grapes, coz I like the way that dude thinks. He’s ready to go to battle, taking the USL head on. He’s already talking about “gats” and whatnot.

    Oh. If the Rowdies can do things right–it’s gonna be on down in Tamper.

    Shoot! SR got me HYPED up and I don’t have even a dog in the fight…

  15. December 15, 2011

    “Still gotta say that the only stars more fraudulent than the star above the current FC Tampa Bay logo are the ones found on the USMNT shield”

    Except, you know, for that pesky “Stars and Stripes” thing. (But don’t get me started on the colors being totally messed up on that shield.) Maybe Man City’s are a better example of stars for stars’ sake.

    That still makes the FCTBnotRowdiesRowdies’ star mega-fradulent. ;P

    That’s alright, though; we in Minnesota know a real star (hello, Soccer Bowl, you beauty!) when we see it.

  16. December 15, 2011

    Great day for Tampa Bay, the NASL, and American Soccer in general. One of the most cherished, albeit incredibly goofy(right along with the Strikers lol), names in the sport is back. Waiting on the Cosmos to get their act together with a real team in some league, and the NASL family reunion will pretty much be complete! Quakes, Sounders, Timbers, Whitecaps, Strikers, Rowdies… pretty much everyone of note from the old league is back in action except the Cosmos.

    The proper Florida Derby is restored at last! No Fusion, Mutiny, Blues or FCTB. STRIKERS-ROWDIES!! Yeah boyyyyy!!! Congrats to all the Tampa Bay fans out there.

    Now to weigh in on the issue of the star over the crest, it’s a little less fraudulent now that they are actually called the Rowdies. But it’s still kinda bogus. By that logic the Strikers deserve a star too for their 1989 National Championship. Gotta love that wacky old script logo, but I do hope they create some kind of proper crest that incorporates it at some point. I dunno if my eyes can take that thing sprawled across those kits 4 or more times a year haha.

  17. Mike permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Yep, no more of that FC crap. They’re the Rowdies now beeyotch, all of their supporters in bloggerland will be dancing in the streets and throwing babies in the air. Those reprobates from that USL group should just backpedal down to the PDL with their tails between their legs and be done with it, they just got served. It’s on now!

  18. yankiboy permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Besides that silly star, the logo looks horrible. Couldn’t they have updated that font or whatever you savy hipsters called the writing style. The FC Tampa Bay crest looked a lot better.

    When I see the one that they are going with now, it not only looks terribly outdated, it also conjures up visions of long lines to buy gas, 8 track tapes and Jordache jeans…

    Seriously. That logo looks HURTING…They had a couple of years and that is the best that they could do? WHo’s going to play athe post game concert after their home opener next season–REO Speedwagon?

  19. taly permalink
    December 15, 2011

    MLS needs to remove their MLS NY2 office and move them to FL and help Tampa Bay, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando City SC Lions become MLS teams.

    Yes – I know that the MLS Commish wants 20 teams but a good rivalry of Rowdies and Strikers plus strong support like Orland City SC should change Don Garber’s mind.

  20. Silly permalink
    December 15, 2011

    Slow down on the MLS talk. All they got was a name change. They first need to put some bodies in the stadium.

    The Strikers and Orlando will have to prove that the attendance numbers from last season were not just a first season fluke. A couple of good growing seasons and who knows.

  21. December 15, 2011

    It’s a logo folks. Only a logo. No one in the South Florida area, including Orlando City has proved anything yet. Wow! Not saying it couldn’t happen but it hasn’t so far. One step at a time.

    Yanki, agree. I am disappointed they did not reach out to Rich Levy like Miami FC/Fort Lauderdale did for a rebranded/retro logo using the Rowdies name but updating the look. Reminds me of my long hair, platform heels and polyester suites from the 70’s. 🙂

  22. Bart permalink
    December 15, 2011

    @BQ

    Only a logo? I mean come on, do you really think that this acquisition is only a logo? The Rowdies name is tantamount to getting more butts in the seats and making this team the first profitable team in NASL, other than Montreal (but hey, they are not there anymore).

    I have an alternative….maybe, just maybe, the overwhelming need to acquire the Rowdies name was to do so to stop the USL Pro team in Tampa from doing so before they could.

    Is it possible that Nestor is so nervous about some measly competition from a lower division team that they need to expend wasted funds and/or wasted promises on acquiring the name of an extinct dinosaur that may never had needed to be resurrected.

    Ouch, inexperience and ineptness can really create some serious paranoid thoughts in a losing business proposition. Dad and Uncle will certainly not be impressed.

  23. December 15, 2011

    Yeah they should have updated the classic Rowdies logo instead of just using the original. Like the Strikers did, and many other pro sports teams(Dolphins, Falcons, Seahawks, Blue Jays, Orioles, etc. etc. etc.). Sharpen it up for the 21st century.

    That being said, the goofy old script is waaaaaaay better than either of the previous logos this team had(the original Rowdies one and the FCTB one). They were nothing to write home about design wise, and the plain, sans-serif fonts they chose totally lacked the character from the classic Rowdies logo. Having a team called the “Rowdies” with a boring typeface is kinda counter-intuitive, especially if you’re trying to reconnect people with a beloved local brand. You want to keep that same feel.

    If they weren’t going to update it, going with the straight up retro logo was the right move.

  24. Jim permalink
    December 15, 2011

    I congratulate Rowdies fans on getting the name back.

    Getting the name and then putting forth the same effort as last year when they were FC Tampa Bay won’t change a thing for the franchise. I think this has to be the beginning of a much better effort by Nestor and the entire front office in Tamper to connect with the community. In fact, they should follow Orlando or San Antonio’s lead as both have done a great job in their communities.

  25. WSW permalink
    December 15, 2011

    So Al Lang field is now Al Lang stadium.

  26. Footy76 permalink
    December 15, 2011

    @JXU permalink

    RIGHT ON

    Congrats to Tampa Bay for getting the Rowdies name that’s a big deal for Tampa Bay and the NASL. Now maybe next we can change the Minnesota Stars back to the Minnesota Thunder. Yes No?

  27. December 16, 2011

    Thunder – NO! Kicks – NO!

    However, it is amazing how many non-soccer people from here still know what and who the Kicks were and to a lesser degree the Thunder. Stars? Who’s that?

    With that said I think the team can build on the Stars name. Look for team to drop the NSC from the name this year. From what I am hearing the Stars are already hard at work with lots of creative ideas for promoting and marketing the team in 2012. Then again they have to be creative as they have very little budget. The synergy (Lord, I hate that word and can’t believe I used it) in the Stars FO is very good right now.

  28. yankiboy permalink
    December 16, 2011

    “In fact, they should follow Orlando or San Antonio’s lead as both have done a great job in their communities.”
    -Jim

    Uhmn, perssonally I’d be reluctant to encourage any franchise to follow Orlando’s lead. Coz when I think of Uncle Phil (minor) I think about trying to sneak out on a community that had been partnering with you to look for a better situation–which I don’t begrudge him. It was just the Robert Irsay-like way that he went about it.

    I much prefer the Art Modell way. Ya know–the one where the townsolk know that it’s coming and where they don’t first hear about it after something was tweeted by someone who read it here on IMS before the owner ever told them that he had found the soccer equivalent of a sexier chick and that he would be moving on.

    (Broken record, I know…)

    But yeah. I get your point. Gotta build those strong community roots, gota build that foundation. That seems to be one of Big Phil’s many skills. Credit were credit is due.

  29. fsufiji permalink
    December 16, 2011

    In Tampa the “Rowdie” in the past and current style is an asset. Sorry to disagree with all of you but living here in the Tampa area I like the new/old logo and hope to see it soon on billboards and advertisements. Not everyone/everyteam needs to jump on the Badgewagon. You guys do what you want for your teams and we’ll do what we want.

  30. yankiboy permalink
    December 16, 2011

    “You guys do what you want for your teams and we’ll do what we want.”
    -fsufiji

    I always love your takes (seriously, how can I not have love for someone who reps FSU & Fiji in just 7 key strokes).

    But that line made me chuckle a bit. No one is trying to tell you Central Floridians (or South Floridians) what to do with your teams.

    We just find it amusing how orgasmic some seem to be over getting the name and that sorry logo back…

    Over in the Wine Cellar, they goy far bigger problems than some of us clowing that logo and–if I can coopt a Gorilla Monsoon line–all of the “panadmonium running wild” over the name change.

    I’m just hoping that an NASL side exists in Tamper come 2013, coz I am not convinced that the Winetasters really know what the heck they are doing.

    But this last move was a nice coup. Nostalgia often sells. I’ve often said that I plan on naming the USLPRO club that I’m gonna launch after I strike it rich from some unbelievable fluke (I haven’t bought a lottery ticket in 8 or 9 years and I’ve never saved the life of some eternally grateful Warren Buffet type who will hooks me with some of his millions)–I’m going to name it the Baltimore Bays because that name should “resonate” with my potential customers.

    (Even after I hit the motherlode, I don’t see me placing my team in NASL the operating expenses are really high. It would be easier and cheaper for me to just try and keep an eye on Econo & company and scream like murder when they are about to do something stupid to make me lose money even quicker than I would be throwing it away… I’ll still be an NASL fan and hopefully not be forced to resign my position as the IMS NASL podcast co-host 🙂 )

  31. Stephen permalink
    December 16, 2011

    The old logo is that, it’s old. However, you need that look to spark the imagination of all the old-timers in the area to spend some money again. In a few years, sure, update it a little (I’ve seen some fabulous design ideas). But for now, this was the best news they could get. Trying to get younger folks to a Rowdies game is SOO much easier than trying to get them to an FC Tampa Bay “Rowdies” game.

  32. Jim permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Yankiboy, as an Ohioan I never prefer anything like Art Modell! He is rumored to be evil, like the devil.

  33. December 17, 2011

    Will this change of nickname give them a shot at becoming the 20th MLS franchise?

  34. Mike permalink
    December 18, 2011

    @Yankiboy,

    As if the return of the Rowdies name wasn’t ‘old school’ enough, you had to go and quote Gorilla Monsoon? Will you stop! Next, you’ll start quoting his former broadcast partner (I think he went on to become a politician or something). Now that guy was a real fountain of misinformation.

    The name change and the..errm..logo are nice for tradition and all, but they won’t put three extra butts in a seat without some substance behind them. Whether or not Nestor and company are up to the task remains to be seen. So far, I haven’t been too impressed. I agree with Bart in that the timing of the name acquisition appears rather curious.

    Hopefully, the re-branding phase ends there. No Minnesota Kicks or (gulp) Atlanta Chiefs. Good to hear the Stars are dropping the ‘NSC’ from their name, that always did sound goofy.

  35. Soccer Boy permalink
    December 18, 2011

    The more I listen to some of these people, the more I am convinced thT some want to re-live the 1970s. Then again, with high unemployment and risining inflation, it is beginning to look more and more like that timeframe.

  36. Strikers Return permalink
    December 19, 2011

    I think some of you guys are missing the point. It’s not about “reliving the 70’s” or “going retro.” It’s about brand power. Ask anyone in marketing and they’ll tell you the importance of a brand name. It can be good or it can be bad. Here’s an example, call it marketing 101:

    Kmart sells a pair of jeans and JcPenny sells the exact same pair. Don’t know what it’s like for any of you in your regions, but in South Florida, when Kmart was still around, it wasn’t a place you wanted anyone to know you were shopping in. The jeans could be identical to the ones in Pennys, hell they might even cost less, but if peers knew you got them at Kmart, noses would turn up. Kmart has some seriously shite perception attached to their brand, and not by coincidence, they no longer operate in South Florida.

    Miami FC had no brand power. The Ft. Lauderdale Strikers do. FC Tampa Bay had little to no brand power, the Tampa Bay Rowdies do. It’s a known commodity, people are familiar with it, some have experienced it before, and even those that haven’t hear mostly positive feedback from those that have. Name recognition, and brand power. They are a WHOLE LOT easier to market with than just starting from scratch and trying to build up to it with your product. Reacquiring the name had to be 100% about marketing. It’s the only justification for going out and spending whatever it cost to get it. Making Tampa (and Striker Likers) happy by now being able to officially say Strikers vs. Rowdies is back is meaningless, again, unless you’re using that as a marketing tool. Without the monsoon, that first Strikers/FC Tampa Bay match last year would have easily, EASILY been the biggest crowd, and that was with the team unable to promote it as Strikers vs. Rowdies. This year they will be able to promote the freak out of it, and I guarantee you it will top every other regular season game hands down, probably even the opener. 7,500+ for the rebirth of the rivalry Strikers vs. Rowdies should be easy, all other things (weather!!!) being equal.

  37. Kenn permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Nothing in soccer is easy. Nothing.

  38. Soccer Boy permalink
    December 19, 2011

    There’re not a lot of soccer fans still around to remember the days of the old names. Take for example Minnesota. Some people think that they should become the Kicks. I would submit that 95% of the soccer fans left in Minnesota have no idea who the kicks are, or could mean more than two players that ever played for the team. it might be different in other places, but certainly not where I’m from. Long live the Stars!

    PS: I some of these teams were not around long enough to have any brand power. it is a lot different from teams like the New York Yankees, or the Dallas Cowboys. now that’s something I would drink too!

  39. speedcake permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Well with all due respect to fans in some of those other markets you speak of, they aren’t in Tampa Bay and they aren’t talking about The Rowdies.

    If you are a soccer fan here, young or old, you know about The Rowdies. This team was well supported in its old NASL prime, very well supported. One of the BEST supported teams in U.S. soccer history. They were an institution, Tampa Bay’s first pro franchise and brought our first championship to the area. Random people in random grocery stores working the cash register will start singing the theme song at the mere mention of The Rowdies. Soccer and Rowdies are synonymous in Tampa Bay.

    I get the feeling that some of you are looking at this brand as if it is equivalent to whatever mediocre and mostly forgotten old soccer team you yourself think of when someone mentions the old NASL. You are wrong to do so because frankly, there isn’t much of a comparison.

    NONE of that means the heydays are back again or that this ownership group suddenly has gold on their hands. They do still have alot of changes to make and improvements to roll out. Fans are still skeptical and in this regard criticism is completely valid, but they are going to have a hell of alot easier time getting people back on board with a team called the Tampa Bay Rowdies than with any other brand name.

    Is the original logo a little cheezy? Yup. Should they revamp it at some point in the future? Probably. But that logo IS the Rowdies and for at least this season they can do no wrong by slapping it on the jerseys and sending the boys out in their green and gold.

    Regarding the timing of the acquisition of the trademark, it is easy to be skeptical given the news of a new USLpro team coming in two seasons. Maybe the news helped push ownership to agree to paying more for it, whatever. However this timeline fits exactly with what a small few of us were told (by ownership) would likely happen months before anyone knew about the USLpro plans. I won’t divulge the details further than that, but let’s just say it is one of the few instances of us being told something was likely to happen and the time frame for when it was likely to happen which turned out to be very accurate.

  40. December 19, 2011

    Thanks for sharing, Speedcake.

  41. Strikers Return permalink
    December 20, 2011

    @Soccer Boy – No offense meant at all, even if you guys stole away our Strikers. LOL But Speedcake is 100% right – very few of the old NASL teams had the kind of support and brand power that make them relevant still. He spoke to the Rowdies. The Strikers are in the same boat. Best, Muller, JVB, Hudson, Cubillas – the Robbie’s brought world class talent here to make the Strikers relevant right from the start. The team then followed it up by being one of the best on the field, making the playoffs every season. There was a love affair between the community and this team. At the time the Dolphins were the only other game in town, and they were owned by Mr. Robbie as well, so even people who weren’t real excited about soccer had a reason to at least pull for the Strikers and join the party down at Lockhart.

    Great example from late last season. I’m in the grocery store and one of the stock clerks stops me and says, “Man, that must be an old school shirt!” when he saw my Strikers t-shirt. I told him, nope, the Strikers are back, and he needed to get down to Lockhart and find out for himself. He was astonished and said, damn, I had no idea, gotta check it out! This is typical, happens all the time when I wear my Strikers gear.

    People know the name, they know the hoops, and to me, it’s the perfect time for them to have brought it all back. People like me who fell in love with the game and the Strikers as a kid going with my dad, now have families of our own that we can introduce to Lockhart and the red and yellow. I can bring my son, seat in our seats and say to him, “When I was your age, grandpa brought me here to watch this team. They were my team, and now they’re yours too.” Sure I came to some Miami FC games, but I tell you it was nothing, absolutely nothing like being able to bring my son to the Mecca, sit him down next to me with a soda and some popcorn, just like my dad with me, and say, all right, come on Strikers, let’s see a win!

    In the stands, in the community, and on the field – the Strikers were a success. The biggest mistake in the history of soccer in South Florida was not reviving the Strikers when South Florida was awarded an MLS team. If they had, they would still be in MLS today. The Timbers, the White Caps, the Sounders, heck you can even site the Cosmos. The people behind the name were a complete farce, but look how much additional interest arose simply because the name was thrown into the mix. I’d still bet that when NY2 is all said and done, whoever the owners are, they’ll acquire that Cosmos name, because I’ll say it again – brand power. Tell me a name you could give a pro soccer team in NY that would garner more interest, sell more tickets, or sell more merchandise than the NY Cosmos. You can’t, because there isn’t one. It isn’t the case in every market, but it certainly does matter in some. The work still needs to be done, no doubt about it. But having the name Rowdies or Strikers, makes it easier, and gets better results in these markets. We’ve already seen it working for the Strikers, and if Nestor gets the word out, along with the fans of course, then you’ll see it happen in Tampa/St. Pete as well.

    Looking forward to a great year 2 of NASL 2.0 here in South Florida. I think last year was a good start, and this year has the potential to keep building on it. Attendance has to be the focus again this year. Having a true offseason to prepare, sanctioning in place early, and another returning all-time traditional American pro soccer brand will help. I think there is great potential for this season to be the catalyst for bigger and better things for D2. If the league can show improvement over last year, show stability and staying power, it’s going to make joining the league that much more attractive.

  42. December 20, 2011

    @Speedcake,
    “Well with all due respect to fans in some of those other markets you speak of, they aren’t in Tampa Bay and they aren’t talking about The Rowdies.”

    “One of the BEST supported teams in U.S. soccer history.”

    Sighhhh….

    Why is it that everyone seems to forget that here in MN we have had pro soccer running in some sort of fashion or another for 40 years and yes, believe it or not the Kicks had a better attendance record than the beloved Rowdies.

    People here also talk about the Kicks with fondness, but there are a generation of people that don’t know anything about them. I would say the same thing for the Stars. If they rebranded as the Kicks they may get a bump, but they still have to market the team long term. As Kenn stated, “Nothing in soccer is easy. Nothing.” I would quantify that and say soccer in America.

    So for the record here are the numbers.

    Average NASL attendance for the years they were in existence.
    Strikers: 19,529
    Kicks: 24,381

  43. Strikers Return permalink
    December 20, 2011

    BQ – Can’t speak for speedcake, but I wasn’t trying to make a simple numbers comparison. You guys in Minnesota have proven a long period of time that pro soccer can work there, no doubt. It sort of makes it a bit baffling why the Stars have struggled so mightily to build attendance. I truly hope their run at the end of last season to the championship is something that can turn it around for them.

    I think what we’re getting at is just more of a tradition attached to a name. I’m going back to that brand power thing again. Minnesota Kicks, for those of us that were very engaged original NASL fans, is certainly a name we remember. Heck, I follow the Cascadia teams and the Earthquakes on Twitter simply because of my fondness for the “old days.” LOL I’d love to see the Tulsa Roughnecks, Washington Diplomats, and Chicago Sting around again too. LOL But to average soccer fans with less knowledge about the history of the game are going to say, Boston Teamen? Huh??? LOL I just think there’s more recognition of the names Rowdies and Strikers, and for whatever reason, there seems to be more loyalty to the brands in our markets.

    Without the Rowdies and the Strikers brands, the success of pro soccer in these markets has been, well, putrid really for the most part. I think a lot of people believe that it’s finally time to go back to what actually did work once before. In the Strikers case it’s already working, and I think we’re going to see it continue to grow. I gotta believe that if the Rowdies FO can use the brand in the right ways, they’ll be right there with us.

  44. speedcake permalink
    December 20, 2011

    I wasn’t talking about the Minnesota legacy in my post. I said the Rowdies were ONE of the best supported teams. 😉 There are plenty of old NASL teams that didn’t have nearly the same impact as the handful of really memorable franchises.

    I also agree that just changing the name isn’t going to get the job done. In our case, judging by the buzz and how often people ALWAYS talk about the Rowdies, it is undeniably the right move and will undoubtedly cause a bump in interest and attendance based on the name change alone. But long term, the team still has work to do.

    Better game day experience, better marketing, better over all product than they’ve provided the last two seasons. From what I’m hearing, the things they are working on doing better/changing, things sound good so far. Andrew Nestor told us that they have multi tiered marketing campaign that they will be rolling out after the New Year and he genuinely sounded excited about it.

    It sounded alot like something they’ve been wanting to do, but have chosen not to due to uncertainty over the Rowdies trademark and not wanting to build up a dead end brand like FC Tampa bay. Can’t prove that unless they admit to it, but it’s what I’ve assumed in the past and if they follow through with the marketing then to me that confirms the suspicion. They clearly slammed on the breaks two seasons ago when the cease and desist order was handed down and have been gun shy about spending money until they knew for certainty what was happening with the trademark.

    I don’t agree totally with that way of thinking because by doing so they’ve really turned alot of fans off by giving the impression that they aren’t interested in doing ANY kind of meaningful marketing. Their uncertainty and “wait and see” policy seems to have been perceived by fans as indifference if not down right incompetence.

    We’ve been told to expect “our minds to be blown” regarding marketing before and now it is on them to for once come through with some promises. Ball is in their court again, there hasn’t been this much buzz since the weeks leading up to the home opener two seasons ago, so it’s going to be interesting.

  45. WSW permalink
    December 21, 2011

    anybody hear FCNY folded? if it’s true USL expansion teams are total flops.

  46. yankiboy permalink
    December 21, 2011

    @speedcake: Thanks for the Florida take. Y’all are so different down there, I need a cultural guide to help me understand your mysterious ways. 😀

    @WSW: I have not heard that FCNY folded. We have been eagerly awaiting USLPRO news since they just had their AGM. In fairness Barracuda FC, LA BLues & Dayton all appear to be returning next year.

    By the way–maybe you didn’t read the interview where Timmy Holt stated that USLPRO was wildly successfull last season, bragged about the six new franchises (and of course, left out the PRSL/USLPRO teams that they jetisoned after a little over a month…)

  47. Silly permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Didn’t Orlando have better numbers with no “brand” that people could reminisce about?

    I heard that FCNY was dropping back to PDL, but not exactly sure if that is accurate.

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