Thursday, July 3, 2014

Guard the Post: State of a Questionably Named Franchise

I was reading a few days ago, a section I traditionally avoid called "NFL Nation", and a writer asked a very interesting question. Kevin Seifert asked, "Why would a capitalist such as Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder oppose changing his team's name when he could make a ton of money from merchandise sales adorned with the new brand?"

Fair question, Mr. Seifert.

I don't have the answer, because clearly I don't agree with how Snyder has handled this situation. What I do know, though, is that there are some factors that play into the change of a team nickname before the franchise can reap large profits.

The amount estimated for the potential Charlotte NBA franchise name reversion is $4 million, according to Fred Whitfield, the Hornets CEO. By comparing the money associated with the team we might get an idea of what financial arena we may be playing in.

During the 2012-2013 season, Forbes measured the Redskins revenue as $381 million and Charlotte at $115 million. Also, the value of the Redskins was estimated as $1.7 billion, and the Bobcats at only $410 million.

These numbers don't have a clear association with whatever it would cost to change the franchise name and mascot, but they do give us an idea of the amount of money surrounding the organizations. So if it would cost the Hornets only 1/100th of their value to change their name, we would be looking at about $17 million for the Redskins. I think that is a quality and fair estimation.

If it would really cost less than $20 million to change the franchise name, the real question is why is Dan Snyder spending millions today on public relations and defending the name? I think it is safe to say it will be much more expensive for the team, financially and socially, in the long-run to defend the name.

The most recent silly spending by Dan Snyder has made is hiring Ben Tribbett, a politico, to help the team survive this PR nightmare. Tribbett is a notorious DC area political heavyweight who is known for being cutthroat. Tribbett has made it very clear what his opinion is on the topic, tweeting "Hail to the Redskins" last week.

There is no report how much Snyder and Washington are paying for Tribbett's services or on defending the name, but it is definitely a significant amount.

What will their return on investment will be? Honestly, I cannot see a future where this name stands so all of this spending is simply delaying the inevitable.

In other news, Tribbett said this on his Facebook last year:
I'm going to weigh in here on the Redskins name. The team started in Boston as the Boston Braves, later the Boston Redskins. Later they moved to Washington. The name is  a *tribute* to the people from the Boston Tea Party that dressed as Indians to dump the tea in the harbor and start the American Revolution. The team name was kept when they moved to Washington because of the importance the Boston Tea Party has to our national history and because of that was deemed an appropriate name for a team in that nation's capital. Before you say the team name is a "slur" on anyone, understand the history place.
What? I am honestly not sure if that is true, but this is the man the Redskins just hired. Basically, he is defending the team name because it was done in tribute to white men dressing up as Native Americans to begin the American Revolution. Seriously.

In the end, it is costing a lot for the Redskins to defend their name rather than spending the money to create a new, unchallenged, and fresh look and branding for their organization.

Kevin Murray is a Junior Sport Management major at Drexel University, originally from Havertown, PA. In the past, Kevin has worked for Drexel Sport Management doing research on Title IX and collegiate sport, as well as for Drexel Athletics in multiple roles culminating in his first co-op in the External Relations department, where he still works part-time. Along with his duties as a Resident Assistant on campus and as the Vice President of Drexel SMTSU, Kevin is currently on co-op with the Drexel University Office of Institutional Advancement as a Student Liaison for their Alumni Discovery Initiative.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinj_murrayConnect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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