Philadelphia Union fans are getting punchy this offseason waiting for the team to do SOMETHING to improve for 2014.
Well, apparently there is a pulse at PPL Park, and some research being done about a new acquisition. Problem is, it's not a left back, an attacking midfielder, or anything else the team really needs.
It's a mascot.
Hello Season Ticket Holders,
Philadelphia Union would like to invite you to a focus group on January 9th, 2013 at 6PM. The Philadelphia Union has partnered with the Survey Research Center at Saint Joseph's University to conduct preliminary fact finding on concepts for a team mascot. We would like to include your opinions, if you are available to participate.
There are not strong enough words for me to describe how much I hate this idea.
Up to this point, the Union have stayed away from the superfluous crap that takes away from the action on the field.
Matchday at PPL Park is a blast, not because of cheerleaders, or a marching band, or "MAKE SOME NOISE" pleas on the video board, or the world's largest T-shirt cannon. The team has gone out of its way to make the live experience all about what happens between the lines. Heck, even the halftime entertainment is usually quick soccer games between youth teams, which is awesome. It's something many people LOVE about Union games at PPL.
I'm not saying a mascot would cause fans to ditch their season tickets, but it's the first step down a road that most wouldn't like. Build a winning team and you don't need a mascot.
[Editor's note: Enrico disagrees! Check out his counterpoint post: The Union mascot is a great idea (as long as it's a moose!)]
While mascots are commonplace in American sports (and apparently common in Europe, even in the English Premier League), they are not ubiquitous in the soccer world. And as much as I hate the fans who insist MLS should be more like the rest of the soccer world and less like basketball, football, etc., this is one case where I wish the league would stop feeling a need to appeal to the "average" sports fan.
Fortunately, this just seems to be a survey to see what fan reaction would be like, and no decisions have been made just yet. Let's hope that the right season ticket holders respond, and the team shifts its focus to players who actually wear uniforms.
More than some of the Union- and MLS-centric websites (which will likely despise this idea), the Level here is geared more toward Joe Philly Fan who sort of follows the Union on the fringes, or watches a game or two each season. I'm genuinely curious, would a mascot make you more interested in attending a game? Would it make you more excited to take your kids to PPL Park?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Finally, if there is a mascot in our future, I demand that team CEO Nick Sakiewicz is the one inside the suit.