We all know how crucial a good domain name is for a business. You want it to be memorable, straight to the point and easy for visitors to type. In just about all situations, a large business is expected to own the regular .com domain name for its brand, and some even snap up all sorts of related domains in an attempt to protect their image.
Professional sports teams, however, are an interesting case. They can be incredibly aggressive in protecting their trademarks, suing bloggers who happen to use the team name in the url of a fan site.
But many times teams can’t sue for control of the team domain name because it is too generic to enjoy protection. (Think of names like “Bears,” “Eagles,” “Cowboys,” or “Twins.”)
In some cases there have been legal battles (such as the example of Angels.com, a domain that today is owned by the LA Angels) but in other cases the team doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.
Sports teams typically add the city name in the front of the brand for their official url in these cases, but these squads are missing out on a lot of type-in traffic from fans.
The NHL has the lowest percentage of teams that own their team domain name, followed by the NFL and then the NBA and MLB.
In many cases, these domain names simply lead to a parked page of ads, but some take you to a completely different type of website.
Some of our favorites:
Dallas Cowboys (NFL) – Cowboys.com is “an online dating community for men who enjoy the same country living lifestyle.”
Chicago Bears (NFL) – Bears.com lets you purchase t-shirts and other bear-related products, including bear postage stamps, aprons, mousepads, skateboards and much more.
Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) – Rays.com takes you to the website of Ray’s Boathouse, Cafe and Catering in Seattle, WA.
Minnesota Twins (MLB) – Twins.com is a Google Site that says “D&D Miller” and little else.
Dallas Mavericks (NBA) – Mavericks.com is an inspirational site that “challenges accepted beliefs” and links to innovative “titans” in various industries. As pointed out by Wisegeek, you’d think savvy internet entrepreneur owner Mark Cuban would be aggressive in his domain acquisition. In Cuban’s defense, mavs.com is owned by the team.
Tennessee Titans (NFL) – Titans.com times out when the page is requested, and the official site has the awful domain name of titansonline.com.
Philadelpia Eagles (NFL) – Eagles.com is just a white screen that says eagles.com in the middle.
The NHL is the league in which the teams control the lowest percentage of team name domains. Wisegeek did a study on each league back in 2007, which is an interesting read although most of the numbers are outdated by now.
In a couple of cases, teams have decided that acquiring the domain is not a worthy investment. The Dallas Cowboys, for example, had a chance to to obtain cowboys.com through an online auction in 2007, but passed on the $275,000 pricetag. Today, as previously mentioned, cowboys.com is the “#1 Online Portal for Gay Dating.”
One final interesting example is that of the NFL’s Denver Broncos. Broncos.com today takes you to a landing page for “your premier independent Broncos news source” that is coming soon. In this case the team would have a legitimate trademark case over potential confusion in the marketplace, and it will be interesting to see if they shut this site down.