Sunday, April 15, 2007
Two months ago rumors were abound that the Colorado Rapids were about to change their name to Arsenal Colorado or Arsenal USA. Instead the Rapids simply changed their logo and color scheme to match that of Aston Villa or West Ham not Arsenal. Today as I walked into Dick's Sporting Goods Park I was greeted by this banner, which indicates that the relationship between the two clubs is deeper than what is acknowledged. I also found it curious that Arsenal merchandise was available in the Rapids team store. This was the only non-MLS merchandise available.
Arsenal is a brand name worldwide, and the club quite possibly has more supporters in the USA than any other European club save perhaps Real Madrid. This weekend I observed how quickly the Rapids new merchandise has sold in the Denver area after years of the team being virtually ignored locally. While the opening of the new stadium has helped, I have to believe the association with Arsenal has been a great selling point at least locally to soccer fans. One real shocker for me at today's game was the small number of Hispanic fans that attended even though Denver is 45% Hispanic. The fans were mostly Anglo and clearly a suburban crowd. The association with Arsenal is a sure winner for the Rapids going forward with this demographic.