Since 2003, USOpenCup.com has been the only place fans have gone to get in-depth information about one of the best kept secrets in not just in American Soccer, but in American Sports: the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. While the site is not affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in any way, it has always been approached professionally, in an effort to fill the void in media coverage for this great tournament.
The small team of men, along with the staff at Demosphere International, who have helped build this website from a place to get a few scores and a rough-looking Open Cup bracket, to a place to get the latest news, historical and qualifying information and that same rough-looking bracket, that has seen some minor improvements over the years.
The traffic for USOpenCup.com has grown exponentially over the years. Every passing season has seen the previous traffic record shattered, and in the last few years, the attention the site has received has exceeded our expectations. In their December issue in 2006, Soccer America magazine called USOpenCup.com one of the top US Soccer websites. Anyone who follows and appreciates the US Open Cup knows that while the tournament has grown in popularity slowly but surely, there is still a long way to go until it receives it’s due as one of the most historic cup competitions in the world and we hope that the changes that we are announcing today will go a long way to facilitate that growth.
With a launch date of September 1st, 2009, one day before the US Open Cup Final between the Seattle Sounders and D.C. United, the website USOpenCup.com as we know it will be re-branded as TheCup.us. The new website, which is being designed by Coleraine Design in Philadelphia, will replace the current one. The new website will include all the features and information that fans and members of the media have come to know over the years, but will add elements such as video highlights, reader interactivity, content organization and a mobile version of the website available on web-enabled cell phones.
The change was brought about in large part due to legal and copyright issues with the USSF. The situation is best explained by telling the story of how the website came to be.
In 2003, Josh Hakala was approached by Demosphere International about helping to manage a website that they had just created under the domain name USOpenCup.com. At the time, Hakala was co-hosting an online radio show out of Lansing, Mich., called the “Soccer Fanatics Radio Show.” The show spent a lot of time focusing on coverage of the US Open Cup, and Demosphere felt that it would be a win/win – Hakala could use the site to promote his radio show and help cover a tournament that he was obviously passionate about and Demosphere had a website to show off some of the great work they do for soccer clubs, organizations and tournaments worldwide.
The radio show came to a close in December 2003 after Hakala moved to Philadelphia, but he continued to operate the website. After recruiting Chuck Nolan Jr. to run the website with him, the site, due in large part to Nolan’s research, added a vast amount of historical information.
Every year, the site grew, and for Hakala and Nolan, it became a hobby. As the years moved on, the work on the site was nearly a full-time commitment and was done in addition to full-time jobs, school and family commitments. With that, they inquired about the possibility of inserting advertisements into the site in an effort to compensate the two of them for all the time and money they were spending. It had also become increasingly difficult to recruit people to help with the site when there was no way to pay them.
It was learned at that point that Demosphere, who owned the domain name USOpenCup.com, were unable to authorize that because the USSF had informed them that they had a right to the domain name due to the fact that they own the copyright and trademark for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The USSF was more than pleased with the work that was being done on USOpenCup.com, but if it was determined that money was being made on a domain name that they had a legal right to, that was going to cause a problem.
In an effort to avoid future conflicts, Demosphere signed the domain name over to the USSF, making them the rightful owners. All parties involved agreed that the website would not change as a result of the official change in ownership of the domain name.
This created a difficult situation for Hakala and Nolan, since they were spending hours keeping the website updated with the latest news and information and continuing to build the site’s historical section, yet it was impossible for them to be compensated for their time. Since advertisements and donations were out of the question, the only logical step was for Hakala and Nolan to be paid by the USSF. They created a proposal and negotiations began at that point. Those discussions ended with the USSF determining that they were unable to find money in the budget to fund the website.
Having exhausted all other options, Hakala and Nolan began to explore other ways to continue to provide the high-quality coverage that fans and media members have come to expect from USOpenCup.com. An important first step was finding a domain name that did not conflict with USSF’s copyrights and trademarks.
With that, the domain name TheCup.us was purchased and a new website is currently in the works. The staff at TheCup.us invites you to join them on September 1 as they enter a new era of US Open Cup coverage, continuing to help shine a light on one of this country’s most historic and underrated sporting events.
TheCup.us would also like to take an opportunity to thank Ben Jones, Miles Baker and all of the great people at Demosphere who helped us make USOpenCup.com an exceptional website for the last six years. We would definitely recommend them to any soccer organization looking for a high-quality website. Also, they would like to acknowledge that while they were unable to come to a compromise, their relationship with the USSF remains strong, and they have committed to helping us any way they can in the future and TheCup.us looks forward to working with them.