SBD/May 20, 2013/Franchises

Buzzword: Bobcats Reportedly Begin Process Of Changing Name To Hornets

The Bobcats are in the "process of changing their name back to 'Hornets,'" including arranging digital assets that would "allow a return to their original nickname," according to a source cited by Will Brinson of CBSSPORTS.com. Still, there is "no timetable for the switch." A WhoIs.net search for the domain name NBAHornets.com shows that the URL was "created and registered very recently -- on May 15, 2013 to be exact -- by NBA Media Ventures, LLC." NBA Media Ventures, LLC, is the "media branch of the NBA and owns NBA.com, Hornets.com and CharlotteHornets.com" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/17). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell in a front-page piece noted what is "still in question is when the name change could be implemented and how extensively the Bobcats would assume the Hornets’ old look." A source would "not comment on whether the popular teal-and-purple color scheme would return to Charlotte." Former Hornets G Muggsy Bogues said, "The buzz belongs back in Charlotte. That still resonates so much, not just in Charlotte, but the state of North Carolina." Bonnell noted a grassroots campaign known as "Bring Back The Buzz" has "several thousand followers on Facebook." A name change "probably couldn't be implemented before" the '14-15 season. NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver last month said that a change would "take a minimum of 18 months." The NBA on Saturday would "not comment on the possible change." Meanwhile, the Bobcats have "estimated it would cost them about" $3M to rebrand because "so much signage and other logo material would have to be replaced." Sources indicated that Owner Michael Jordan and NBA Commissioner David Stern "advocated a switch to the Hornets to better market Charlotte's team." The Bobcats, the league and adidas each will "have to sign off on how the new uniforms should look, and that will take numerous revisions" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19).

MAKING THE RIGHT CALL: In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote as "obvious as the move was, the Bobcats got one right." What it will do is "put the Bobcats in position to further their relationship with fans." A team can "only be new once," but if changing the name "makes fans feel as if it is, why not?" (CHARLOTTE OSERVER, 5/19). Also in Charlotte, Scott Fowler presented a 10-point plan as to what the Bobcats should "do next now that they have really decided to change their name to the Charlotte Hornets." This is "absolutely the right thing to do, but it’s like jumping into a swimming pool." There is "no way to halfway do it" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19). In North Carolina, Richard Walker wrote based on the Bobcats’ "woeful nine-year history -- one winning season, one playoff appearance and zero postseason victories -- there’s little reason to believe just changing a name will do anything special." While a name change will "surely benefit the NBA’s marketing department with sales of updated Hornets’ gear, it’s far from certain that a name change means Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena will be filled with fans night after night" (GASTON GAZETTE, 5/19).

REASON TO BEE-LIEVE: In Charlotte, Jonathan Jones noted area resident John Morgan started the "We Beelieve" campaign three years ago. The campaign "grew from an internet petition to a Facebook page to television commercials broadcast in the Charlotte market." Morgan said, "I think we kind of brought the conversation into the public consciousness" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19). The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Sorensen wrote the name change will "better enable the Bobcats" to become part the city. Fans who "cared not at all about the BobJohnsonCats will buy caps and jerseys and show up at Time Warner Cable Arena to watch their team play." If they "like what they see, and enjoy the experience, they'll return" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 5/18).
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