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Opinion

Fire doused, potential USFL team needs name

8/9/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

It’s been six weeks since we learned the U.S. Football League (USFL), which ceased operation in 1987, was staging a comeback, and Akron could be the site of one of its teams. An investment group led by Sean Mason, president of Team1 Marketing Group, was looking to purchase a team and have it play in the Rubber Bowl in the spring of 2013.

The name chosen for the team was red hot.

“We were kicking things around,” said Mason. “We had the Akron Phoenix. And we threw that around, and we liked the idea of having fire in the name. Well, there’s Firestone — what if we do ‘Firebird’?”

The name settled upon was the Akron Fire. Unfortunately, it did not set the world on, well, you know.

“People weren’t quite sold on the Akron Fire,” said Mason.

When it comes to team names, mulligans are allowed. Akron’s minor-league baseball team was going to be the Akron Blast, and its feline mascot was to be Kaboom. After a public outcry, the team became the Akron Aeros and its mascot was rechristened Orbit. (The organization held a rename-the-team contest last year, with the winner being “What are you thinking? Keep the bloomin’ name.”)

So, Akron’s potential USFL franchise is in need of a name, and Mason is open to suggestions. He also would like to hear the thoughts of Leader readers as to the team’s colors.

Mason said the process to get a team in Akron is “going really well.” The investment group is in place to pay the $7.5 million price for the team (which, compared to the cost of the Browns, is a Marc’s closeout). The University of Akron has accepted the group’s offer for the Rubber Bowl, which, according to Mason, will have a rent and renovation cost of $6 million to $8 million to start. A construction firm has been chosen to renovate the facility, upgrading its seats, locker rooms, press box and restrooms. They are looking into a new scoreboard that can show video replays, which would be quite an improvement over the glorified construction sign that was there when the Rubber Bowl was abandoned in 2008.

Of course, a lot has to happen before the Akron Name-Goes-Here take the field. But, when speaking to Mason, you get the feeling the ball is on the opponent’s 5-yard line, and one final push is all it will take.

“We have all the paperwork in place,” said Mason. “It looks like I’ll be headed to San Diego [the location of USFL headquarters] at the end of the month to get them to sign off on everything. It’s in our attorney’s hands right now. He’s looking at everything.”

If all parties like what they see, Akron could have its first professional football team since the 1967 Akron Vulcans, a Continental Football League franchise that discombobulated after only a few games when it was discovered the owner had no money.

That might be why “Vulcans” is one team name, despite its off-the-charts coolness factor, is not under consideration for the new franchise.

“We had talked about it, but we really want to stay away from that,” said Mason.

You can send your ideas for team name and team colors to nromshak@t1marketinggroup.com.

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