Fan Backlash Halts MLS Team Name Change

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The reigning Major League Soccer champions won’t be changing their name after all, after reaching an agreement with supporters that reverses part of a recent rebrand.

According to ESPN, the Columbus Crew MLS team announced this month that the team would rebrand, dropping Crew from their name and adopting the moniker Columbus SC. At the time of the announcement, team president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said that the new name would place more emphasis on the city, which was viewed as a desirable outcome.

"When you had Columbus Crew SC, people really ignored Columbus," Bezbatchenko said. "They talked about Crew SC. Everything was Crew, and that was only part of our identity and what we want to be about going forward."

The decision drew harsh criticism from fans and supporters groups alike. Morgan Hughes, one of the founders of the Save the Crew organization that helped the city keep the team from relocating called it "such an unnecessary own goal."

However, after a meeting between members of the front office and representatives from different supporters groups, including the Nordecke and La Turbina Amarilla, the Crew will remain part of the club’s name.

"This evening, a positive, collaborative discussion took place between Crew investor-operators, front office executives and a diverse group from the Crew community regarding the future of the Club's brand and the Club's commitment to its supporter community,” read a statement released after the meeting. “The importance of keeping the Crew as the Club's primary identifier was clear. The decision that came from the discussion was that Columbus Crew will remain the team's official name moving forward.”

Additional rebranding details were announced in the statement, as well. 

"The Crew received Nordecke's support of the name, which will include Columbus Crew as a part of the new crest. In addition, '96' will be placed inside the outline of the Ohio state flag, recognizing the club's status as the founding member in Major League Soccer."

According to Charles Campisano, general counsel for the Nordecke and one of the attendees of the meeting told ESPN by telephone that the meeting was "a sincere attempt to mend fences."

"Obviously, it would have been better to have a fair dialogue up front, but given that they're listening and reacting and asked us a lot of stuff I think is as good as an outcome as we could have hoped for given the circumstances."

In a video statement, part owner Dr. Pete Edwards said, “We're going to be the Columbus Crew and we're going to be the Columbus Crew forever."

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