D.C. United is one of MLS’s original clubs and, since its launch in 1996, not much has changed with the organization. While most other teams have moved into a new venue or altered their nickname, colors or logo, United has remained at RFK Stadium and kept its principal features.
But with a new stadium on the way, United believes the time has come to make other changes: It is changing its logo design.
The new moniker will be unveiled at an event for season ticket holders Dec. 10 at Union Market.
“It’s a transformative time for our brand, there’s no question about that,” United chief operating officer Tom Hunt said Friday. “The stadium absolutely plays into that. It all ties together.”
Without revealing details, Hunt said the new look is “more of a modern evolution than a revolution.”
“In order to be universally appealing,” he said, “we said we think it’s time to modernize it.”
The team colors (black and red) and nickname will not change, he said.
The last time United altered the crest was after the 1997 season, softening a militaristic version of an eagle with soccer balls.
The latest process began 18 months ago, Hunt said, and involved collaboration with marketing and design agencies. The team gathered feedback from focus groups and considered several dozen options.
Merchandise will go on sale at next month’s ceremony and the fresh image will appear on uniforms and equipment when the team gathers for training camp in mid-January.
United is aiming to enhance the team brand ahead of the stadium opening at Buzzard Point, located near Nationals Park at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. The project is clearing final hurdles with the city and scheduled to open in 2018. Club officials are hopeful of breaking ground next summer.
The logo change is part of wider efforts to appeal to soccer fans and casual fans alike. United had only 3,000 season ticket holders last year but grew the total to 5,500 this season, Hunt said. It’s aiming for 7,000 next year, 9,500 in 2017 and 12,000 for the stadium opening in 2018.
Seating capacity at the new venue is not set but expected to be in the neighborhood of 20,000.
United averaged 16,244 at RFK this season, the 17th-largest figure in the 20-team league. MLS averaged 21,574 for 340 regular season matches.
Logo changes are not unusual in sports. Both the Washington Capitals and Wizards have featured several since the 1970s.
In MLS this season, the Columbus Crew drastically changed the logo while retaining the core nickname and colors.