Baltimore's Canadian Football League franchise, only 17 months old, entered a new era yesterday, when owner Jim Speros christened the team with a new nickname.
Say hello to the Baltimore Stallions.
Speaking at a news conference on Memorial Stadium's 55-yard line, which he reached by riding a horse across the field, Speros ended the short life of the Baltimore Football Club.
After a banner reading "Home of the Stallions" was unveiled atop the upper deck behind the end zone, Speros said, "This is a name that makes a lot of sense to our football team and to our area. I think our fans will get behind us. We need to market our product and market our team, and it's tough to do that without a name.
"I think Stallions is one of the best names not being used in sports."
It's also a name that Speros chose with a wary eye cast toward the National Football League, which owns the trademark rights to the name.
Speros, who lost a court fight with the NFL after he named his team the "CFL Colts" last year, informed officials at NFL Properties on Thursday of his intention to use Stallions.
"I don't want to spend any more money or time or effort fighting the NFL," Speros said. "I'm not looking for a legal fight."
The name was originally intended for an NFL expansion team in St. Louis. Since the Los Angeles Rams have moved to St. Louis, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Speros is in the clear with his choice.
"It does not present a conflict to us. It's really a moot point," Aiello said. "Since St. Louis did not get a team, we're not planning on taking steps involving the CFL team's use of the name. We wish them the best of luck."
Said Speros: "I don't think anyone benefits from a lawsuit. There's no sense in dragging our team through that again. From a financial standpoint, there's a sigh of relief. I don't have to go down that road again."
A limited amount of Stallions merchandise will be sold at tonight's home opener against the San Antonio Texans.
Speros said he also strongly considered Mustangs, but his preference for Stallions goes back to last year, when he nearly chose it over Colts.
Shortly after Baltimore ended its inaugural season by losing in the Grey Cup game, Stallions garnered 35 percent of the 20,000 votes cast in a name-the-team contest, finishing a strong second behind CFLs.
Ultimately, Speros decided to call the team the Baltimore Football Club, retaining its horse-head logo and adding a "Big, Bad and Blue" slogan.
That all changed yesterday.
"We're 0-1 as the Baltimore Football Club, and it's going to end like that," Speros said.