On Wednesday, after the name of Baltimore's first Arena Football League franchise was unveiled, Josh Ganzermiller was puzzled. And seeing double.
The team would be called the Brigade, a nod to Fort McHenry. Roger Mody, co-owner of the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group, explained in the introductory news conference that a brigade "is defined as a unified military group, so what better way is there to describe our arena football team’s determination and drive to win, while also signifying their city and their dedication to the community.”
Ganzermiller, an Ellicott City resident and president of the Baltimore chapter of American Outlaws, an unofficial support group for the U.S. national soccer teams, recognized the name; it had been his chapter's since its founding in 2008.
Ganzermiller wrote in an email Wednesday night that while the chapter, which has over 400 active members, 1,300 followers on Twitter and 2,000 fans on Facebook, is "generally excited to have new professional sports options in our great city ... we were disappointed in the team's announcement today."
Ganzermiller said the group has become "well-known" in the local sports community for its support of U.S. Soccer, having held regular game-watch parties at Slainte Irish Pub in Fells Point and organized game-day activities when the men's national team plays at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Brigade did not reach out to the American Outlaws chapter before its announcement, said Ganzermiller, who bemoaned that the choice in name "will clearly make it difficult for fans attempting to find a group of like-minded US Soccer Supporters with whom they can gather to watch a game." (The first five links from a Google search for "Baltimore Brigade" relate to the AFL team; the sixth is the URL for the chapter's Facebook page.)
For now, there is little differentiating their respective Twitter handles. Ganzermiller said that since the group joined the social-media platform in 2009, its account name has been @bmore_brigade. When the AFL's Brigade updated its Twitter account to reflect its name Wednesday, it settled on @BMOREBRIGADE.
"Baltimore is a city full of great people and a rich history in which the team could pull from to inspire a name — surely one could have been chosen that will not cause the confusion that this choice will," Ganzermiller wrote.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Brigade had not responded to an emailed request for comment.