Soccer team's name, logo official "Union" may carry at least two meanings - and even the design is open to interpretation.

Posted: May 12, 2009

Some people see a bridge.

In fact, they see a very specific bridge, the Commodore Barry, deftly tucked into the logo of the region's new pro soccer team, the Union, which formally announced its name and colors yesterday.

A rollicking news conference at Philadelphia City Hall drew hundreds of fans along with dignitaries from Mayor Nutter to Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, gathered to celebrate what team co-owner Jay Sugarman grinningly called "the world's worst-kept secret."

The team's name and colors were reported in The Inquirer on Friday, and copies of the blue-and-gold logo leaked onto fan Web sites. The news yesterday was the announcement of ticket prices, which will range from $275 to $1,100 for a 17-game package.

That, and the bridge. If it's actually there.

The evidence is in the eye of the beholder: Under the word Union is a curving double line that connects two patches of gold, set on either side of a shield. The points of the shield add to the effect.

"You can see a bridge," said Bryan James, head of the Sons of Ben supporters group.

After all, the team will play in the shadow of the Commodore Barry, in a stadium being built on the Chester City waterfront. So that line under Union, with no other reason for being, must represent a bridge?

"There could be a bridge," said team president Tom Veit.

He's willing to go this far: The Commodore Barry Bridge, which connects Chester to Bridgeport, N.J., was on people's minds when they were creating the logo. But so were lots of other things.

"There's little hidden things in the logo that could be coming out for years," Veit said.

The logo is a circle - a shape specifically chosen to represent unity. The word Philadelphia is at the top, as befits the first U.S. capital and the region's center. On the bottom are 13 stars, for the 13 colonies.

The shield comes from Philadelphia's coat of arms. On the shield is a snake, its forked tongue extended. That serpent is a rattlesnake, team officials said. It was adapted from Ben Franklin's political cartoons, which made the snake a symbol of the Revolution.

The team's secondary logo adds the Latin phrase, Jungite aut Perite, meaning, "Join or Die," Franklin's admonition to the colonies.

Both logos employ two shades of blue - navy, to represent the uniforms of the Continental Army, and a pale blue taken from the city flag.

One of the first interpretations of the Union brand was provided at City Hall yesterday by the Sons of Ben, who belted out the chorus of Woody Guthrie's "Union Maid," the 1940 labor anthem: "Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union."

Not everybody was thrilled with the Union label.

"It wasn't the name I wanted," said Ian Doherty, 48, of Laurel Springs, N.J., his shirt emblazoned with the logo of the old Philadelphia Atoms soccer team.

He would have preferred AC Philadelphia, to recognize the region's Italian soccer heritage by mimicking storied AC Milan, one of the most popular clubs in the world. But more important than any name, he said, is the simple fact that "there's actual soccer again in Philadelphia."

The name of MLS's 16th team was the top choice of fans who voted on Philly.com, besting Philadelphia SC, Philadelphia AC, and Philadelphia City.

Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415 or jgammage@phillynews.com.

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