To borrow a line from Woody Guthrie, they're sticking with the Union.
That's going to be the name of the region's new pro soccer team, which will take the field wearing blue and gold, people familiar with those decisions confirmed yesterday. The long-awaited official announcement of the team name and colors is scheduled for Monday at City Hall.
Union was picked as the name of Major League Soccer's 16th team after an exhaustive internal evaluation aimed at selecting a moniker that would be both modern and lasting. In choosing Union, the team hearkens to the city's part in the nation's founding and to the area's historic role in the American labor movement.
On Monday the team also plans to reveal its new logo: a circular emblem that bears a hissing snake. The serpent echoes the use of a rattlesnake on the 1775 Gadsden flag, which bore the legend "Don't Tread on Me." The logo's top rim contains the word Philadelphia, and the lower rim carries 13 stars, for the original colonies.
The logo could be somewhat revised before Monday. And there were indications yesterday that other announcements concerning the team could be made then.
Blue and gold are, of course, the colors of the Philadelphia flag.
The layers of the name Union are many. The words "a more perfect Union" were written in Philadelphia, in the preamble to the Constitution. The song possibilities - and soccer fans sing at games - are huge, from Civil War battle hymns to old labor ballads.
It's easy to imagine fans belting out the lyrics to "Union Maid," Guthrie's 1940 anthem.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm
sticking to the union . . .
I'm sticking to the union, 'til
the day I die.
Club president Tom Veit said yesterday that he could not could discuss the name or logo before the official announcement. But he predicted that fans would find both selections exciting, and that both would last and grow with the team.
"We're not looking to change our logo every four years," Veit said. "We're looking for a logo that's going to stand the test of time."
The Union are to begin play in 2010 at a $500 million stadium complex being built on the Chester riverfront. The team also plans to announce ticket prices Monday, already having taken deposits for about 6,000 season tickets, a third of the 18,500-seat arena.
Team officials have long regarded the name as one of their most crucial decisions, believing it has to work on several levels, acceptable to local fans but also connective to the world soccer community.
The right name, colors, and logo can bring a pro team millions of dollars in sales and licensing.
The team has been building toward Monday's announcement for months. The name Independence was an early favorite, but it was also a mouthful and certain to be shortened to "Indies" in newspaper headlines.
A giant list was reduced to 135 choices, then to four announced finalists. Fans voted at Philly.com, the team pledging to abide by the results so long as the balloting was decisive.
The other finalists were Philadelphia SC, the initials standing for "Soccer Club;" Philadelphia AC, for "Athletic Club," and Philadelphia City.
AC or SC could still be added to the name Union.
The logo was briefly, accidently posted on the Web site of Major League Soccer, www.mlsnet.com. People who visit the site now see "Philadelphia 2010" where the logo had stood next to those of the other MLS clubs.
Bryan James, head of the Sons of Ben supporters group, said yesterday that among people who had seen the logo, "the feedback has been incredible."
"It's not only our fans but fans from across the league and a couple from overseas," he said.
He particularly liked the blue at the center, he said, because fans had adopted blue and gold as their colors even before an expansion team was awarded to Philadelphia.
"It should show that the fans are at the heart of the club."
He likes the name Union, James said, because it's uniquely Philadelphian, touching the city's colonial past and its modern role as one of the nation's last true union towns. The name Union also resonates worldwide, used by soccer teams in Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, and other countries, he noted.