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Report: Crew ‘seriously’ considering changing name and colors in rebrand

The Black & Gold may not be the black and gold much longer.

SOCCER: OCT 10 MLS - Columbus Crew SC New Downtown Stadium Groundbreaking Ceremony Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Columbus Crew SC may have changed the team’s logo and altered the name slightly throughout its history but for 25 years, the Black & Gold have always worn those two colors predominantly and Major League Soccer’s first club has been known as “The Crew.”

That could all change in the near future.

According to The Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace, the Crew is “seriously” considering changing the team’s name and colors as part of a rebranding project that would wrap around the opening of the club’s new stadium during the 2021 season. What colors or name, you ask? That is unknown at this time.

A team spokesperson would not confirm nor deny Arace’s report but issued the following statement to The Dispatch:

“As part of the process of building the future identity and brand for the Club, we have engaged in dialogue about the historic projects underway. From the evolution of the League’s first soccer specific stadium, to the experience center in the Short North, to what the new, downtown stadium will look like, it is seemingly prudent to evaluate how our supporters and new fans would interact with them. This Club has been a vital part of the community for nearly 25 years and so any explorations of the identity of the projects must be done with the spirit of the past and what we believe the Club can achieve in the next 25 years.”

Massive Report was unable to confirm The Dispatch’s report.

The Crew, created in 1994 before playing its first game in the League’s inaugural season in 1996, was MLS’s first team and was given the colors black and gold. The name “The Crew” and the original logo — three digitally created men in hardhats — were developed after a local contest allowed fans in Columbus to help select the club’s initial identity.

This — along with the moniker “America’s hardest working team” — was how the Crew came into existence. While it was mocked by some, it created the passion and backing that saw the team prosper through the early years of MLS and build its fanbase that helped save the team two years ago.

In 2015, then-owner Anthony Precourt led a rebranding effort in which the team went from “the Columbus Crew” to “Columbus Crew SC,” insisting that the “SC” be used in every reference and erasing “The Crew” from memory. Precourt and his team also changed the team’s logo from the hardhat men to the more European style the club uses today, meant to reflect the history of the team and the German heritage of the Columbus community.

Prior to the rebrand, Precourt released a “For Columbus” second uniform, eliminating the traditional black kit that complimented the gold in favor of a yellow, red and blue look that was supposed to match the colors on the city’s flag. While the replica jerseys reportedly sold well, the overall change did not please many traditional fans and players, former or present.

Following Precourt’s efforts to move MLS’s first club to Austin, Texas — a move that was thwarted by a “hardworking” group of fans and help from the local government — Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and former team doctor Pete Edwards purchased the operating rights to Black & Gold, essentially saving the team and keeping it in its home city.

Since that point, the Haslams have been applauded for their ownership, helping to begin construction on a new downtown stadium and allowing the more casual “The Crew” to be used again. But this — if The Dispatch is correct and the club elects to go through with these plans — could be the first negative step by this new ownership group.

The Browns, who wear orange and brown, changed their uniforms in 2015, receiving so much negative feedback that it is believed the team will return to something close to the traditional look next year. And while the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Haslams once had a minority stake in, wear similar colors to the Crew and are the Browns’ biggest rival, this seems like an odd and risky move by an ownership group that hasn’t yet had the same issues in Columbus as it has in Cleveland.

A change in colors and name — how does Columbus City FC sound? — would certainly generate buzz around the team prior to opening a new downtown stadium, but — simply based on quick reaction to The Dispatch’s article on social media — it could also risk losing thousands of fans who have long chanted “We all cheer for a yellow soccer team” from the team’s supporter’s section.

This is a developing story and Massive Report will provide updates as they are made available.