Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pigs Turn To Spirit

RIP. Sydney now has the Spirit?

The West Sydney Razorbacks have traded in the bacon for bucket loads of spirit after a decade in the NBL.

That's right, no longer will the team from the western suburbs of Sydney be referred to as the Pigs. From today on, the Razorbacks franchise will be known as the Sydney Spirit.

Being an original team member for this franchise I will always have a soft spot for the Pigs, but this will not be so for the new look Spirit.

I can kind of understand what the owners of this franchise are trying to do here by trying to offer the people of Sydney a fresh start for their new basketball team.

But could this move backfire?

Will the Sydney Kings faithful all of a sudden want to jump in bed with the cross town rival, especially if they're still trying to get a new franchise happening themselves for next season?

I don't think the new franchise can bank on all the Kings members supporting the new franchise. Even by signing Jason Smith, there are many a Kings sponsor and fan who has been left with a dirty taste in their mouth.

No doubt you will always have your odd fanatical hoop lover that will go anywhere to watch a game, particularly if there is only one team in town. Hell I used to go into the city to all the Kings games, and they were my least favourite team.

I just cannot see all of those 3500 Kings fans (very generous number) automatically becoming Spirit fans.

The biggest risk I see happening here is alienating your current sponsorship and supporter base. (Yes, insert your own supporter base joke here.)

There have been a core group of fans and sponsors that have been with the Razorback franchise from day one, now they are expected to support the Spirit.

The Razorbacks have spent the last ten years trying to brand themselves in the tough Sydney market but now they want to switch direction and pump up the Spirit.

Pigs fans loved playing up the Silvertails vs Fibros rivalry with their cross town foes, now they are trying to get in bed with each other.

Although this is not a full on merger, merging is what the Spirit hierarchy is trying to do with the fans and sponsors. Take a leaf out of the NRL's history books with mergers, they do not work.

The Pigs should have believed in their product and keep soldiering on as the Fibros from the west. This is what the past ten years has been spent on doing.

Once the emotion of the Kings fans and sponsors had settled they would have no other choice then to get in their cars and head out the Hume Highway to catch a game.

Once at the charismatic Whitlam Centre and knowing there are no more "Violet Crumbles " to support, they will become fans and friends of the Pigs just as they were with the Kings.

Instead Sydneysiders now need to be re-educated as to who the Sydney Spirit are.

I'm not sure (please prove me wrong) but I do not think too much money was being tipped into the marketing budget of the Pigs. Now the Spirit on the same budget has to re brand a team that has been in the market for 10 years.

I confess I have no marketing degree but it just doesn't make sense to me how this will work on the same budget. Remember this is the same ownership group of the Razorbacks, now just operating under a new name.

As I previously mentioned, I have a soft spot for my former team and I wished the franchise nothing but good times.

In my mind the Razorbacks franchise is history.

I hope the Spirit captures the imagination of Sydneysiders and all games can be considered marquee games played in front of 10 000 fans at the Entertainment Centre.

Trouble is, there is part of me that sees this attempt to unify Sydney basketball fans backfiring.

Other News
Vegas Summer League - Day 2 (Oriene Green & Ebi Ere in action.)
NBA rumours getting around the bleachers in Vegas.
TrueHoop blogs from Vegas.
Clippers dirty on Brand's agent.
A report on 50 Rookies at Summer League.
Jawai article.
Warriors sign Maggette.
Another Barry in Houston.

OJ Mayo throws it down on (Paris) Hilton Armstrong!


Mike said...

This reaks of Victoria Titans ... how successful did that move turn out to be?

A new entity (without any attachment to any prior team, a la South Dragons) was the best option going forward. The problem is that the Razorbacks are fully aware of that fact, and they obviously don't want to be kicked out of the league - which was probably a 95% chance of happening in a post-review era.

And just as a side note ... Sydney Spirit???? Surely they could've done better than that.

John Rillie said...


There are so many ways we could look at this move by the Razorbacks. It will be interesting to see how it works.

You're right about the nickname, they could have worked on it a little. WNBL team in Bendigo is the Spirit and they just had a soccer franchise in north Sydney go by the same nickname.