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Major League Soccer: Highlanders hold the high ground

Published August 11, 2004 1:58 am

Name game: Salt Lake's new soccer name could be Highlanders if online voters have their way
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If voters online get their way, Utah's new Major League Soccer team will be named the Salt Lake Highlanders.

However, opinions are varied enough to make more than half of the respondents to a The Salt Lake Tribune Web edition poll unhappy with that choice.

The unscientific survey at sltrib.com allowed readers to choose between the four name possibilities announced by team owner Dave Checketts on Thursday. After four days online, 2,227 votes were cast, with 836 (37.5 percent) in favor of Highlanders.

In second place, Alliance received 708 votes (31.7 percent). Glory received 374 votes (16.7 percent) and Real Salt Lake received 309 votes (13.8 percent).

"We certainly enjoy seeing the response of the community," chief executive Dean Howes said. "It's kind of fun to see where they go with that."

One person could have voted several times, so the chance exists that the results do not reflect general opinion.

The team means to give itself a name which reflects the highest level of soccer in the United States, rather than just Utah's community. Of the four names Checketts unveiled, Highlanders may be the one Utahns identify with the most.

"Highlander really is a local brand," Howes said. "It very much is a part of the community."

On the first day of polling, on Friday, Highlanders hovered near the 40 percent mark and Alliance sat just under 30 percent. A few days later, Alliance was chosen almost 34 percent of the time while Highlanders had garnered 37 percent.

"As time goes by here, people start reflecting on different angles as to what the soccer team should be named," Howes said.

Still, the final name may not be any of the four names being bandied about.

"This is a multiple-horse race," Howes said.

Other polls have also cropped up online. One poll at bigsoccer.com, with 553 responses, showed 52 percent of votes in favor of Highlanders and 20 percent in favor of Alliance.

Another poll at iloveutahsoccer.com, the team's temporary Web site, allows surfers to choose between five names: Highlanders, Real Salt Lake, Alliance SL, Utah United and Salt Lake Front. In that poll, 57 percent of 1,217 votes were for the Highlanders with Alliance SL and Salt Lake Front each coming in at just under 20 percent on Tuesday.

But those two are not necessarily the final contenders. Howes said Glory and Real (pronounced: Ree-AL) are still very much in the running. Public input, he said, is just one component of the decision-making process. Decisions about logos, colors, marketing and trademarks also must be made. The widespread discussion, however, has altered the team's timeline.

"It actually just accelerated the move forward," Howes said.

Although things seem to be moving quicker, team officials may be somewhat behind in their efforts to get a team ready by April. The team originally expected to announce the team's name this week, but Howes said the final name will not be revealed until next week at the earliest.