Sounders Insider

From Wiz to Wizards to ... a true sporting club

Once the Kansas City Wiz, then the Wizards, it is now Sporting Kansas City that will play at Qwest Field at 7 p.m. Saturday.

With their new stadium rising on the western loop of Kansas City, Wizards ownership decided the time also was right for a new name, uniforms and crest. Predictably, fans did not greet “Sporting Kansas City” with unanimous enthusiasm.

“They kind of divided it into three camps, and we knew this going in,” said Andy Tretiak, SKC vice president of marketing. “First were the diehard fans who weren’t going to be happy about any change. (We) were very sensitive to that and tried to communicate as best as possible why we made the change. I think for the most part they understood it, but especially when it comes to sports teams, that brand becomes so beloved that it’s very hard to let that go. … There was frankly another camp that just didn’t like the name at all – weren’t opposed to changing it, but didn’t like the name. And there were others that really were intrigued by it and excited by it.”

Tretiak said Wednesday that the name comes from more than mere eagerness to take on a name that evokes European soccer tradition -- that this will be “a true athletic club,” with fan memberships and a brand intended to incorporate other sports and entertainment entities.

The very next day, the “Sporting Club” parent organization announced an affiliation with the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club.

Here's more on that:

Sporting Club announced Thursday an official affiliation with the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club. The Kansas City Blues will join Sporting Club as a founding member of the Sporting Club Network.

"Sporting Club is very pleased to be affiliated with the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club," Sporting Club Vice President and Blues board member Rory O'Connor said.

"The Blues are a tremendous organization and together we feel that there is a great opportunity to help grow the sport of rugby in this region."

Founded in 1966, the Blues have participated in both national and international competition, as well as sending both past and current members to represent the United States National Team, The Eagles. The Blues also field an under-19 team, including the Junior Blues, and hold affiliations with high-school rugby clubs across the Kansas City metro area.

“It’s hard for us to describe how excited we are about becoming affiliated with Sporting Club in an official capacity,” Blues general manager Joe Fridkin said.

“This type of partnership is unprecedented, and through this affiliation, it’s only going to help trickle down the opportunities to help grow the sport of rugby.”

WhileSporting Club did not acquire or purchase the Blues outright, Sporting Clubwill represent the commercial sponsorship and merchandise inventory of the Blues. As an official affiliate of Sporting Club, the Blues will now wear Sporting Club patches during competition and will continue to train and compete at the Sporting Club Training Center in Swope Park.

In addition to maintaining the use of the Sporting Club Training Center in Swope Park, the Blues will also play a match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Sunday, October 15th following Sporting Kansas City’s match against New York Red Bulls at 3:00 p.m. CT.

About Kansas City Blues Rugby ClubBased on a loose affiliation with both UMKC and Rockhurst College, the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club was established in 1966. Strides were taken early on to develop a unique Club identity and culture by the founding members, and throughout the 70's and 80's, the Blues elevated their rugby knowledge and skill level to become one of the dominant teams in the United States. In 2011, the Blues field an active roster of 50 players, an Old Boys side (35+ years) called the Blues Brothers, a U-19 high school side (Jr. Blues), close support of 5 other U-19 and high school sides in the KC area, and an even larger supporting cast of non-playing members.

About Sporting ClubSporting Club is owned by a group of local Kansas City business and community leaders comprised of Neal Patterson, Cliff Illig, Pat Curran, Greg Maday and Robb Heineman. Its flagship Major League Soccer property, Sporting Kansas City, is the only locally owned professional sports team in the city and the club prides itself on its commitment and innovative vision to provide high-performance entertainment and consumer experiences. Sporting Club purchased the team from the Hunt Sports Group in 2006, and under their direction have opened a world-class training center at Swope Park, invested heavily in the Sporting Kansas City Juniors Development Academy, and brought some of the top teams from around the world to play in Kansas City, including Manchester United, Chivas Guadalajara and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Founded in 1996 as an original charter member of Major League Soccer, Sporting Kansas City is in its 16th season in 2011 with a state-of-the-art, $200 million plus stadium to open on June 9th and the launch of a ground-breaking membership model that will transform the way a professional sports team connects with its supporters.