Mobsters Are Coming to Las Vegas
The lower divisions of sports usually need to be creative if they're to survive.
And the newest addition to the soccer pyramid in the USA plans on being right in that mix.
Welcome to the Las Vegas Mobsters of the fourth-tier Premier Development League.
So far, so good. People have noticed. And in the wacky world of offbeat sports names, it's still a feat to stand above the crowd. It also opens the door to what generates the dosh more than winning records or, sometimes, even gate receipts: marketing.
With professional clubs having their origins in European football, team nicknames grew more from local inspiration and convenience than marketing prowess, because, well, there was no such thing as 'marketing prowess' in their earliest days. While records indicate the presence of organized teams as early as the fifteenth century, the practice began to spread in the 1840s. With names such as the Rochdale Body-Guard Club becoming more than a mouthful, it was only natural that nicknames would soon become essential in condensing team references.
Many of the more unique monikers survive to this day, as attested by the West Bromwich Albion Baggies (a description of the players' shorts back in the day, which has currently returned to relevance) and Charlton Athletic Addicks (colloquial for Haddocks in reference to a local fish-and-chip shop).
In recent times, it's been minor league baseball that has picked up the gauntlet and run with it on the road to profits. Taking a cue from long-standing local standards such as the Chattanooga Lookouts and Toledo Mud Hens, crazy names are now commonplace and doing well for the teams that use them. Minor league hockey noticed, as exemplified by the clever combination of local flavor with a play on words that is the Louisiana IceGators (hint: say it quickly).
And this practice is making some minor league owners a fortune.
It's also opened the door to offbeat marketing. Consider the Lehigh Valley IronPigs giving away a free funeral and the second-tier North American Soccer League's Atlanta Silverbacks staging an out-of-nowhere Oktoberfest promotion.
So, the Mobsters appear to be on solid ground. Sportwriters will be forever appreciative for the catchy story angles, which in turn will serve to continuously provide free publicity to the club. This, of course, will be the springboard to offbeat promotions and, no doubt, merchandising revenues.
It's the stuff that can get a team noticed in a distraction-happy city like Las Vegas.
And it gives them a good shot at being in the chips.