D.C. running store changes name from ‘Pacers’ to ‘Wizards’


(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Any D.C. area resident who cares about running has heard of Pacers running stores. With five locations throughout Northern Virginia and the District, plus a popular training program and a bunch of annual races, Pacers is entrenched in the market. And I’ve never even considered the overlap between the Pacers name and the Indiana basketball team.

But Chris Farley has. Farley, the chain’s owner and general manager, is a lifelong D.C. sports fan. He’s all taken with Wizards Fever. And he couldn’t abide the perception that his running stores were aligned with the enemy.

And so the company announced that its Logan Circle/P Street location will officially change its name to “Wizards Running Store,” effective immediately and through the end of this weekend’s two-game homestand.

“The Bullets/Wizards franchise hasn’t made the Eastern Conference Finals in 35 years and a series win against the Pacers would be great for our city, fans, and community,” Farley said in a release. “We want to support our hometown team, even if that means temporarily changing our store name.”

In conjuction with the change, from May 9 May 11, the Logan Circle “Wizards Running Store” will donate 10 percent of gross sales to the DCXC project, which attempts to introduce D.C. kids to distance running. There will also be a “Wizards Running Stores” banner outside the location, although obviously they aren’t using the team’s official logos, colors or script, and are not attempting to imply that they’re in any way affiliated with the team.

Naturally, Farley is a tad nervous about any legal issues in using the Wizards name, even as a goof meant to support the home team. When his company trademarked its Pacers name, it had to agree not to sell any NBA gear or use the NBA or Pacers likeness.

“But I’m a huge Washington D.C. sports fan and couldn’t help myself with this. I’ll ask for forgiveness later,” he wrote in an e-mail. “My Bullets/Wizards Fever is at a 10 out of 10.  I’ve lived in the Washington D.C. area for all my 38 years. I go to a dozen games a year. I don’t remember 1978, so watching these playoffs feeling like my team can and will actually win the game is amazing.

“The fever is contagious too,” he wrote. “Sports brings communities together like nothing else. I’ve got employees who have never watched NBA basketball watching every game! I don’t want to jinx it, but I really think the team could be on to something really big this year. Really Big!”

And in other community buzz news, the Passenger on Seventh Street now has a quintet of Wizards-themed cocktails.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · May 9