No Sports Sports Review: Bethlehem Steel FC Becomes Philadelphia Union II (Yawn).

This is one in series of quick takes on various logo updates for 2020. No one has the energy for clever deep dives right now, myself included. So I try to get right to the point.

This one is a little personal for me. Union II was, until last year, a new iteration of Bethlehem Steel FC. I live in the Lehigh Valley, and Bethlehem Steel, the company (which officially closed in 1996) remains iconic in local and American history even now. In its heyday, it employed thousands and thousands of locals, pumped out steel that helped win WWII and build the Golden Gate Bridge. It also sponsored the original Bethlehem Steel FC, a legendary club from the days of the professional industrial leagues. My great-grandfather worked for Bethlehem rival American Steel (owned by JP Morgan) and was, himself, an industrial league semi-professional athlete. Family legend says he once out-pitched Satchel Paige in a barnstormer, and I’ve decided to take that as fact.

Anyway, I’m not a huge soccer fan, but am I huge mark for anything historical. I liked having the Bethlehem Steel FC iconography revived, and I thought the team’s logo was good. It incorporated the classic Steel imagery with the Union’s excellent snake.

Here are the reasons for the team’s departure. It’s a bummer, especially considering that the Lehigh Valley metro is, according to many metrics, able to support an MLS team of its own.

As for the new logo of the rebranded squad, meh. It’s just a rehash of the Union’s (very fine) visual identity.

After Minor League Hockey, Major League Soccer?

This report by Portfolio.com and bizjournals is two years old, but I’m guessing the numbers, if accurate,  are fairly sticky.  The question:

“What North American cities are primed economically to host a major-league sports franchise and which ones are already overextended?”

The usual suspects emerge in most cases.  This interactive map displays them nicely.   It’s also how I learned that the numbers crunchers at Portfolio believe Allentown (the Lehigh Valley metro region, really) could support a Major League Soccer team.  Researchers looked at total personal income  (the total sum of all income in a given market) and concluded that while an MLB franchise requires a TPI of $83 billion, an MLS franchise needs a comparatively scant $13.9 billion.

Allentown metro’s TPI is $30.62 billion.  That’s $4 billion more than NHL city Winnipeg and 2 bills shy of Tucson for perspective. I know that Philadelphia (well, Chester) has a shiny new MLS team in the Union, but that’s not a TPI issue.  Given a local MLS team to go crazy for, Lehigh Valley soccer fans would buy in in droves, and so would a good many casual sports fans.  The Union would be our natural rival, with yearly Turnpike Grudge Matches and the like.  A-town would get a piece of the national broadcast action, with ESPN beaming live from our lovely new stadium on the Allentown waterfront a few times a year.  It’s too bad PPL, headquartered here, bought the naming rights to the Union’s home field. But those things can change.

Let’s put this on the fast track.  I’m willing to green light this ahead of my hoped-for Butz Tower (a hypothetical soul-mate for the Art Deco bachelor on 9th street).

Come on, Allentown metro.  You know you want to.