Chicago Fire re-brand: No crowns, no kings

BRIDGEVIEW, ILLINOIS - APRIL 20: Fans unfurl a large Chicago Firejersey after the Fire scored a goal against the Colorado Rapids at SeatGeek Stadium on April 20, 2019 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated the Rapids 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
BRIDGEVIEW, ILLINOIS - APRIL 20: Fans unfurl a large Chicago Firejersey after the Fire scored a goal against the Colorado Rapids at SeatGeek Stadium on April 20, 2019 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated the Rapids 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Fire fans are rejecting the newly unveiled logo for the club, and rightly so. Chicago is no place for crowns and royalty.

"“Hog Butcher for the World,Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;Stormy, husky, brawling,City of the Big Shoulders:”"

Today, the Chicago Fire announced their new logo, one that had been rumored for the past week or so. It is a blue oval with yellow and red triangles. Based on the materials and explanations from the club, it’s meant to appear like a ‘Fire Crown’. The inverted red is supposed to symbolize the ashes of The Great Fire, while the yellow on top illustrates the rising of the city from the ashes. That was their intent and it is somewhat commendable. But many fans have taken issue over multiple things with the logo.

"“They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.”"

On the simplest level, it bears a strong resemblance to other teams in the league. After years of jokes about the Columbus Crew being a ‘Yellow F*ckingTeam’, Fire fans now find themselves with yellow as a primary color in their logo. After being booted from the 2009 playoffs by Real Salt Lake in what may have been the end of the club’s glory days, they are now seemingly using the RSL color scheme with their new logo. The triangles/crown are more reminiscent of mountains than anything else and has an uncanny resemblance of the Vancouver Whitecaps logo.

There are also conversations going around that the yellow crown on top is similar to the one used by the Latin Kings, a violent gang within the city of Chicago. Many fans from the south side of the city have warned on Twitter of the unintended consequences of using the crown imagery. The club gave a response to the Chicago Sun-Times saying ‘we made the assessment that the Fire Crown, in its entirety, is distinguishable and unique.’ For many fans, this isn’t enough and some even worry of dire consequences for fans who wear the new logo in the wrong neighborhood.

"“And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;”"

Putting aside the possible gang affiliations, the idea of a ‘crown’ just doesn’t sit right to use as an icon of Chicago. There’s a certain air to the idea of Chicago that does not cater itself to a crown. New York calls itself the ‘Empire State’, Los Angeles is a ‘Fairy Tale Kingdom’. Chicago does not have a Monarchian spirit.

The history of Chicago after the fire, that story of rebuilding and rebirth that the new logo is supposed to be reminiscent of, is not one of royalty. It is one of hard work. Of the stockyards and rail-yards. Chicago recognizes family, the support of family, the traditions and passions that are borne out of community and connection. The glitz and glamor of other cities does not pertain to Chicago.

"“Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,Bareheaded,Shoveling,Wrecking,Planning,Building, breaking, rebuilding,”"

One of the big reasons why people felt that there needed to be a rebrand was because of the similarities between the Chicago Fire badge and the official Chicago fire department badge. Some players have mentioned their stories about being mistaken for firefighters. There is probably a massive difference between being confused for a firefighter and being confused for a gang member, but once again, even when you take away that extra meaning, a Florian Cross has so much more of a connection to Chicago than a crown.

With constant political problems surrounding the police department, it is still the fire department that is constantly seen as helpful to the community. They protect. Being associated with the firemen and women across the city isn’t a bad thing and it connects much more deeply with the name. A yellow and orange crown doesn’t make people think of ‘rebuilding from a fire’, but the Florian Cross does.

"“Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,”"

Throughout this article, I’ve inter-spliced now nearly the entirety of the poem Chicago by Carl Sandburg. One of his more famous quotes about the city is probably the most relevant to this situation: ‘Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.’

Perhaps most pertinently to not, this new logo is coming from a consulting firm based in New York and Los Angeles. This is the foundation of their problems. There is a disconnect of understanding and relation between decision-makers, the supporters, and, most crucially, the city itself.

It’s hard to realize what Chicago is without being a part of it. New York is about the money. Los Angeles is about the fame. Chicago is about the work. And the Chicago Fire is about tradition, honor, passion. This new logo fails to account for any of those Chicago ideals. The idea, then, to represent the fire, the show a rising from the ashes, to portray the recovery and restoration of a city and a club, was commendable. But the execution is all wrong. There is something just unChicagoan about it, and that is a grave shame.

"“Laughing!Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.”"