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Cleveland team plans to get $1M by use of Force

Cleveland team plans to get $1M by use of Force

DAVID SWEET

Published

The Cleveland Crunch believes it's found a way to make a million dollars — by changing its name.

The Major Indoor Soccer League team has disposed of the Crunch moniker and opted to embrace the Force — the name of the Cleveland team for a decade during MISL's first incarnation, which ran from 1978 to 1992.

"The Cleveland Force still has an unbelievably strong brand identity," said Paul Garofolo, president of the team and general manager of the original Force.

One example: Garofolo visited his dentist earlier this month. The lady cleaning his teeth asked, "When does the Force season start?" — even though the team was the Crunch at the time.

Garofolo estimates the name change, which took effect last Friday, will increase season-ticket, sponsorship and merchandise sales by the low seven figures in the first year alone, a 30 percent to 40 percent jump.

The cost of becoming the Force — including changing uniforms, souvenirs and the like — is about $100,000. Rights to the Force name were held by Bart Wolstein, the franchise's original owner. Wolstein turned the name over at no charge.

Team investors confirmed the switch should be made during the All-Star Game earlier this year in Cleveland, when the Cleveland Force Legends played the MISL Legends.

"We probably sold an extra 5,000 tickets because of the Force," Garofolo said. The game itself attracted 13,216 at Gund Arena.

Why didn't they change the name earlier? "Our feeling was we wanted to get things organized in the sport [first]," said Garofolo, who bought the then-Crunch in 1999 with Dick Dietrich and Michael Gibbons.

Back in the 1970s and '80s, the Force averaged 15,000 a game in the Richfield Coliseum (the new team averages 6,000 in 12,493-capacity CSU Convocation Center). Its 7,000-strong season-ticket base was more than Cleveland's Indians and Cavaliers combined during some years in the 1980s, Garofolo said. He added the team made more than a $1 million profit for six years in a row.

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