Q&A with Dallas GM Greg Elliott
On the day that the Dallas Burn became FC Dallas, team general manager Greg Elliott sat down with MLSnet.com to discuss the reasoning behind the name change and its impact on soccer in Dallas.
MLSnet.com: Why change the name?
Greg Elliott: We felt we needed a name that is more synonymous with soccer. One that is representative of the nature of the sport, and will be all inclusive for those who follow the game.
MLSnet.com: What was the thought process behind the FC Dallas name?
Elliott: If you search the globe for the best club names, it is easy to detect a pattern. The name says who were are very clearly and defines our intention to be the soccer leader in North Texas and beyond.
MLSnet.com: What will the new name do for the club?
Elliott: It allows us to reintroduce our brand to the marketplace... to tell our story, if you will. That story includes who we are, what we stand for, the league we play in and all that MLS entails (which includes the prominent role the league plays in supplying players to one of the highest ranked national sides in the world).
While we have enjoyed a level of passionate support from many longtime fans, the bottom line is that there just has not been a significant level of acceptance of the "Dallas Burn". We expect the loyal fans to rally around the new name and continue to support us, and we expect many fans that have never paid attention to us - for whatever reason(s) - to stick their toe in the water and sample our product.
MLSnet.com: If the team were not moving into a new stadium next year, would the team's name still have changed? How much impact did the new venue have on the decision to rename the team?
Elliott: The venue move was a contributing factor and so was the Investor/Operator change to HSG [Hunt Sports Group] that occurred in 2002. I think that there were enough reasons to change the name; however the onset of the new stadium made this the ideal and appropriate time to do it.
MLSnet.com: Were you determined from the outset to pick a 'traditional' soccer name?
Elliott: We explored many names. Depending on where you hail from, some were soccer traditional and others were more in line with traditional sports team names. The group ultimately felt very committed to finding a name that defined us and set us apart from the hundreds of other sports team names that dot the landscape.
MLSnet.com: How does the new name follow the league's stated mission to bring itself in line with international soccer standards?
Elliott: I'm not sure there's a correlation there other than that you clearly know you are referring to a soccer team when you say FC Dallas.
MLSnet.com: How many other names did you consider? What were some of the other options?
Elliott: We looked at many others, with some getting more attention than others. Also, more than 1,000 name entries were submitted in our "Dallas Soccer Guess the Name" contest.
MLSnet.com: What effect do you think the new name will have on the club's support?
Elliott: Well, we literally have fans that have the Burn logo tattooed on their bodies, so I am sure it will be painful for some to see the name changed. Many of those who initially objected to our direction have now e-mailed or called me to tell me that there are excited about the name change. I think the community will be excited and embrace the name and new logo.
MLSnet.com: What effort is the club making to make sure the new name is on the lips of soccer fans in Texas?
Elliott: One of the reasons we are announcing the change when we are is so that we can utilize the new mark in our integrated marketing campaign for 2005. In that regard, you will see it prominently, although we will be operating our business as the Dallas Burn through our last playoff match this season.
MLSnet.com: Club names like FC Dallas tend to be inclusive and understandable across a broad range of cultures and languages. Was that intended in the creation of the name?
MLSnet.com: A lot of soccer teams around the world that have club names like Dallas's have had nicknames develop out of the location, attributes and circumstances of the club - such as Arsenal, whose location led to the club's official name and the nickname "Gunners". Is it your hope that fans will create something in a similar fashion?
Elliott: We have some very colorful and creative fans, especially in our unofficial supporter's group, The Inferno. I'm sure they'll come up with something over time. If it helps the fans become more passionate, we're all for it.
MLSnet.com: What will happen to the Burn nickname? Will it be memorialized in any way or will it just cease to be?
Elliott: It will definitely live through our last playoff match. We will likely memorialize it somewhere at our new stadium, perhaps in our Texans Credit Union Walk of Fame exhibit area. We did incorporate two elements of Burn imagery in the new logo, using a tip of the "flame" as a painted spot on the cattle's head and displaying the year we were founded (96) prominently.
MLSnet.com: How does the new club name reflect the progress/status of the club and of the league?
Elliott: MLS has become one of the top soccer leagues in the world. It is only fitting that our clubs should have names similar to the top clubs in the world.
MLSnet.com: How do the players feel about the name change? Are they excited to pull the new jersey on?
Elliott: I can't say I have discussed it with every player and coach, and until our unveiling event they did not know the name or see the logo, but I think they are universally excited to be part of our new era. This season, we have re-established pride in playing for our organization, and running onto the pitch in our new stadium wearing our new kit next year will no doubt be a great moment for them.