Goodbye MetroStars, hello Red Bulls

It looks like Red Bull has bought the MetroStars, the New York/New Jersey franchise of Major League Soccer, and plans to rename the team the New York Red Bulls. (I know it’s a soccer story, but bear with me.) The sale will likely bring a big cash infusion and some sort of renewed commitment to winning (which would be a welcome change from the team’s so-far 11-year commitment to absolutely sucking). Still, hard-core fans are despondent. “Metro Death to Be Announced Thursday,” reads the top headline on MetroFanatic.com. Mostly it has to do with the name change. The New York Red Bulls? It’s asinine. Plus, it shows no respect for what little history and tradition the team has. Red Bull has bought some sports franchises in Europe, too, and apparently enacted similar sweeping rebrandings there. I’m not a hard-core Metros fans (although, true story, Freddy Adu did politely ask that I be escorted out of an Audi event one time, after I disparaged D.C. United), but to me this is a questionable strategy. The hard-core fans are all this team has right now. I have to believe the company really just doesn’t care that much about them. It figures they’ll come around, or else it’ll start from scratch. Anyway, some people think this renaming also sets an unfortunate precedent. As Steve Lepore writes on SportsFan Magazine’s Web site, “Do we really want to live in a world where tonight’s big game is the New York Pepsis vs. the Boston Cokes?” Long live the Metros.