Professional soccer is coming to Omaha. And that means sports fans around here soon will have a new selection of gear to wear, perhaps hanging in closets next to that of the Huskers, Bluejays, Mavericks and others.
Now, one of the big questions remaining is what nickname will owner Gary Green and associates select for Omaha's USL franchise?
Team names often reflect the historical significance of a city or region. Hello, New England Patriots, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia 76ers. Or they're derived from major commerce, culture or ancestry. See:
Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings.
Whatever the case, these nicknames often have profound power. They can preserve or even enhance a community's identity.
So, no pressure, Mr. Green, but this decision is kind of a big deal. Or not (keep reading, please).
Will Omaha's new team pay homage to a Nebraska-themed mascot? Will it mimic the weather theme Green embraces with his
Omaha Storm Chasers minor league baseball team? Will it follow classic soccer themes?
World-Herald readers didn't hesitate to weigh in. We received more than 1,500 responses when we asked for suggested team names and colors.
Many suggested traditional soccer nicknames — incorporating FC, SC or United — like those you'll see in Europe or Major League Soccer here in the U.S.
Others suggested traditional mascots such as the Bolts, Lightning, Twisters, Bobcats, Titans, Bison and Bulls. Some nodded to previous Omaha sports history; there were multiple mentions of the Racers, Kings and Golden Spikes. We sifted through pages of responses and picked out 10 that stood out — in part because they might provide a good chuckle.
Before you write some reader suggestions off as nonsense, consider that the NHL Western Conference finals-bound San Jose Sharks could have been named the Rubber Puckies or the Screaming Squids. Or that the New Jersey Devils were almost the Meadowlarks and the Minnesota Wild could have become the Minnesota Blue Ox. (And that it wasn't that long ago that the Anaheim Ducks were known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.)
If you're prone to giggle about one reader suggestion, the corn-themed Kernels? Don't. Cedar Rapids' Class-A Midwest League baseball team has gone by that nickname for years. Mike Trout, Joe Mauer and Trevor Hoffman played in Cedar Rapids.
A special shout out goes to award-winning World-Herald illustrator Matt Haney for designing would-be logos and color schemes for the following mascot suggestions from World-Herald readers: the Forest Corgis, Kernels, Locomotives, Mammoth Hawks, Meadowlarks, Mighty Meatballs, Rainbow Unicornhuskers, Ranch Dressing, Sasquatches and Turf Monsters.
And for goodmeasure, here is a listing of what we'll call some honorable mentions, including some with editor's notes: