The Carolina RailHawks soccer franchise will be rebranded as North Carolina FC, owner Steve Malik announced Tuesday in downtown Raleigh.
“We looked at a lot of different alternatives, hired marketing agencies, got feedback,” Malik said. “I think we have a strong brand that looks great and polled much better than many of the alternatives. There were many good ones. But at the end of the day, we want to represent the state.”
The club’s new logo features a red, white and blue with gold trim color scheme and a single five-pointed star, designed to pay homage to the North Carolina state flag. The bottom right portion of the star is shaded to represent the Research Triangle area where the club is based.
The team even went so far as to design the logo in a shape that narrowly reflects that of an acorn, considering the fact that Raleigh is known as the “City of Oaks.”
Malik also announced the club’s intentions to launch an “aggressive public campaign” to get an MLS franchise within the next 12-18 months, and expressed their hopes to be awarded a National Women’s Soccer League team within the next six months.
“We aspire to be at the top level of both men’s and women’s professional soccer, so we are pursuing MLS and NWSL bids as well as a new stadium,” Malik said. “We made a conscious decision to brand ourselves as North Carolina’s professional club. A united soccer community will be one of the keys to reaching these goals.”
Malik also announced the club’s hopes of finalizing a location and beginning construction on a brand new 20,000-seat stadium within the next 12 months.
“We feel we are well positioned for this,” Malik said. “The market is ready for an MLS team based on our geographical location, population growth, dynamic economic environment and significant soccer participation.
“MLS requires a minimum of 20,000 seats with amenities in order to maximize revenue, and a new stadium is vital to our plans as it would increase the economic impact in the area and allow us to better showcase the sport.”
North Carolina FC will soon offer a membership program in which individual, corporate, and governmental bodies will be able to buy-in to packages that will support the expansion movements.
“I think the dream for any supporters group is to have an owner who has a clear vision of how to move the sport forward locally,” said Ryan Jernigan, president of the Oak City Supporters group. “Since Steve Malik has taken over the team, the energy surrounding the club’s future has been amazing. As we’ve moved into a more stable and professional club, it’s great to see our brand and commitments to the sports local growth following suit.”