Throughout their history, Sporting Kansas City Wiz/Wizards have never had a traditionally hated rival. In the first two years of the league it looked like Dallas could become that rival with some rough games and the 1996 playoffs, but with the addition of Chicago in 1998 and the Brimstone Cup, and then the addition of Houston, we've fallen well down the list in terms of rival for Dallas. Colorado seemed like a decent candidate, but nothing ever really developed, and then KC moved East as Salt Lake came into the league and the Rocky Mountain Cup was born.
Chicago has always seemed like the perfect rival for KC, Chicago is one of the closest road trips for KC (about the same as Colorado and Dallas give or take a little bit), there are games for trophies involved (MLS Cup 2000 and US Open Cup 2004), there are even those rivalry games that can be used to dig at the other team (July 4, 2001, 7-0 Chicago). But the rivalry has never really developed, mainly because Chicago has more or less turned their noses up at KC for a number of reasons. First Chicago's nickname is the second city, they see themselves as a rival with the big cities, no use wasting their time with a "small market" like KC. The other thing has been KC's attendance history both for the whole stadium and for the supporter's section. Section 8 in Chicago has been one of the league's best supporter groups for years. On the other hand the Mystics/Cauldron/Members section has had a very slow growth to the section until the past few years when it exploded. When I joined the section back in 2004 I never imagined we'd get a traveling crowd of 300 to go on any road trip. The final thing that's been a deterrent to a rivalry has been KC's pitiful record in Chicago, 2 wins in their entire history in the Windy City is not the way to develop a rivalry.
OnGoal and Sporting KC's front office seem set on trying to change that mindset. First was the announcement before the road trip was set up that the team had purchased 300 tickets for away fans for the Fire home opener. The "Sporting 300" did travel and with the loss I think it was a distinct message to Chicago on their intent. Then the same weekend of the game Robb Heineman tweeted that the team would be donating $500.00 for every goal scored on the Fire this season. He clarified this point saying every goal ANY team scores against Chicago this season. Then today comes the announcement that any time the Fire lose this season you can get a free medium sub when you buy chips and a drink and tell the cashier "Put out the fire". This is only available at KC area locations. I get the promotion, it's cute with the tie in with firefighters and all.
I like that we're seeing more marketing out there, but part of me feels like this is a cry for attention type thing from KC. They're trying to force a rivalry without the other side really responding. The closest KC fans have gotten to a rivalry type response was for those of us on the bus to/from Chicago that got copies of the 7-0 July 4th game with the 2000 MLS Cup logo on the front. In the end that was that great considering by the time people got onto the bus the next morning word had already made the rounds of what was on the DVD and only 1 person really watched it. Quite a bit of money put out for something that had little to no response. This just seems to feel like the little kid (Sporting KC) trying to force there way to the big kids table any way they can.
I'm not quite sure I know how to feel about this. On one hand I think this is kind of a cool promotion an interesting way to try to develop a rivalry, by giving KC fans benefits for losses by Chicago. There aren't many other sports teams that do this type of thing. On the other hand that is also the part that bugs me about this. Most teams will do promotions that prompt their own team (like the Planet Sub Hattrick special the past two years). Part of me wonders why the team isn't able to sell the success of the team instead of the demise of an opponent who has at best shown apathy and at worst dis-interest in Sporting KC.
In the end I'd rather have promotions like the Firehouse sub deal applied to KC wins instead of other teams losses. This just comes off as weak and just a attempt to be cute in their marketing. Let rivalries develop naturally. For example that preseason "brawl" with RSL, that's certainly going to create some animosity on the field in both games this season. Those are the type of things that can start to develop rivalries. Not some promotions based off of when the other team loses to someone other than KC.