Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang said the soccer club is looking to start fresh and a rebrand is “in progress” heading into the 2023 season.
Before the National Women’s Soccer League club unveiled its new home and away kits for the 2023 season, Kang told the assembled media that all the changes — starting with team colors and a modified crest — will represent a clean slate for the team.
While she did not say why she felt the Spirit needed a rebrand, she said that there has been “a lot of drama, but we are here to play soccer.”
“Work, actually, [is] still in progress. This is not going to be ultimate [or] final,” Kang said of this year’s designs. “This is like [the] first step of our rebranding.”
When asked if the team’s name was also being considered to be changed, she responded “everything is on the table.”
The Washington Spirit’s team colors have been red, white and blue — similar to many D.C.-area sports teams — since its inception in 2012. Heading into 2023, the Spirit will don a black kit for home matches and a white jersey during away games with a new chrome logo. CVS Health returns as the Spirit’s official front-of-kit partner.
“It’s good to start … basic again, back to basics,” Kang said, adding that the team will make no final decision on a rebrand by 2024 without community and player input. “We’re here to play soccer [in] black and white. And from there, we’re gonna go figure out how colorful we’ll get.”
Supporters got their first look at the new uniforms and crest colors during the Spirit’s season premiere event at Penn Social in Northwest D.C. on Wednesday night. Players attended the affair, participating in autograph sessions, talking directly with fans and answering questions in special Q&A panels.
“Fans’ input is very important because at the end of the day, they identify with us,” Kang said. “It’s not just the name, but the overall kind of vision and the philosophy behind us, so we’re working very hard.”
Moving to Audi Field, training facility’s future
Kang is entering her second year as the primary owner of the Spirit after acquiring controlling interest of the team last January.
Since then, she has ceded control of the daily operations to team president and general manager Mark Krikorian while staying focused on the business side. In October 2022, Kang hired Emma May from Nike to become the Spirit’s president of business operations, and she expects to add more people to help in its front office.
Since the ownership change, the Spirit repaired its fractured relationships with D.C. United and currently trains out of its training facilities in Leesburg, Virginia. In December, Washington announced that all of its home matches will be played at United’s stadium, Audi Field, in Buzzard Point.
When asked about the decision to move from its split home-field arrangement with Segra Field in Loudoun County, Virginia, Kang said that it was at the top of her players’ “wish list” and another way to keep the focus on soccer. Players had long criticized the playing surface at Segra Field, with defender Sam Stabb calling it “the worst field I’ve probably ever played on, and the fact that we were professionals playing on that field is atrocious.”
“Our players really deserve to play in a professional environment,” she said. “I am a little sad because there are a lot of fans out in the western suburbs that … it’s going to be very challenging for them to come to Audi Field. So I’m really a little saddened by the fact that some may not come, so we’ll figure out how to do it.”
She also addressed the team’s quest for its own training facility, a topic she has floated in the past as a future goal. For now, the club has its own space within D.C. United’s training center and will keep the space as its home for the foreseeable future.
“Ultimately, we want to have our own training facility,” Kang said. “So we are working on that, but as you know, it’s a very busy and great urban area [so] that finding 50 to 90 acres of land that’s ready for us to come in, it’s extremely difficult.”
The Spirit opens the 2023 regular season hosting Seattle’s OL Reign on March 26 at Audi Field.