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Union finally working on a new addition this offseason: A mascot (yes, seriously)

Jan 3, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT

source: AP

The only soccer mascot we could think of is Manchester United’s “Fred The Red” (he’s on the right).

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.

According to The Brotherly Game — an SBNation blog focusing on the Union — a researcher from St. Joseph’s University sent out an invitation Thursday to some season ticket holders.

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.

  1. Adam B - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Ben Franklin or GTFO.

    Reply
  2. 33 - Jan 3, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Please, Union, call the Sixers and ask them about this idea. I think the new regime caught more flack for the moose than Andrew Bynum. A Phil E. Moose scenario is far more likely than a second Phillie Phanatic. Best case is probably Swoop.

    I think get why they’re interested though, and my guess it has less to do with what we might see during a game and more to do with all the appearances the team does away from PPL Park. It’s a somewhat little known thing, but for much of the warmer-weather year, spring to fall, when they’re not on the pitch, they’re doing a ton of local youth events, sometimes as many as a few per week. Usually there are a few players, 2 or 3, and it’s really pretty great. I’ve never experienced the level of access to a local pro team like they offer, which is just kind of how it goes when you’re trying to build a league and fanbase.

    I have pretty high hopes for what those seeds will sow in the future, with tons of little kids having access to to their favorite soccer stars from a young age. They idolize these guys, and in my experience, the players have been really fantastic to the kids and families at these events despite how much of their free time it can demand.

    So, my guess is they’d want the mascot to add to the support staff for those events, and to the stuff they’re trying to get going for before the games and in the restaurant afterward. But I am totally with Steve that I personally don’t have any interest in the team having a mascot if we’re going to have to put up with any added gimmicks during the 90.

    Reply
  3. thekrisheim - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    tone of this article doesn’t match what everyone already thinks about hardcore MLS fans at all

    not a hint of it – nothing

    “joe philly fan?”

    Reply
    • 33 - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      I think he just means it’s not soccer-head coverage, in-depth tactical analysis, every transfer window rumor, etc. More just the highlights.

      Reply
  4. Marvin Monroe - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    I thought they had a mascot. I noticed him last year a lot, especially in the corner sections- 101, 102, 133, 132, 121, 122, 113 and 112.

    His name was Empty Seat Pete.

    Reply
  5. Jim - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Maybe our mascot could be a racist, overweight, foul mouthed, trashy member of one of our local Philadelphia unions?

    Reply
  6. sonofbill - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Unless the mascot can play in the midfield this is a wast of time and money.

    Reply
    • sonofbill - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:33 PM

      waste

      Reply
  7. Derick - Jan 4, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Bring back SocceRoo!!!

    Reply
  8. DonnaJHernandez - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    my co-worker’s step-mother makes $78 hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $21018 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit,,,,,,, jobs59.COM

    Reply
  9. Atomic Fury - Jan 5, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    Ahhhh, that’s the Union for you. Doing the important stuff. Doesn’t matter. They ain’t major league until the entire parking lot is paved.

    Reply
    • oshihidra - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Maybe it’s because I never park in the official lots that I don’t, but do that many people seriously give a shit about the parking lots being gravel? Seems like a massive afterthought to me.

      Reply
  10. Steve - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    If this dumb idea gets voted in, keep whatever “character” the Union come up with off the field. Otherwise, have someone dressed as Ben Franklin make a half-time appearance. Additionally, why not give the ladies comprising Major Molly’s Army a bit of publicity. Not because girls in soccer can only be mascots or because there’s sex appeal, but these girls have put a lot of time and effort into their own success within this sport and would further help promote a sport that’s growing very well. I’d much rather see these young ladies greeting fans in the concourse and on the field during half-time rather that Ben or, again, some character.

    Reply

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