SBD/July 19, 2013/Franchises

NBA Officially Approves Bobcats' Name Change To Hornets Beginning With '14-15 Season

The NBA’s BOG on Thursday unanimously approved the Bobcats' name change to the Hornets after next season, with the team now cleared to officially begin its rebranding effort. NBA Commissioner David Stern said, “The board's approval was just the first step in that process. The next step involved in launching a new team identity is the creation of logos, color schemes, uniforms, and what will be keeping team executives quite busy over the course of the coming year.” Bobcats President Fred Whitfield said the name change and subsequent rebranding will cost the team about $4M with the new Hornets logo and team colors expected to be completed sometime in late November or early December. The Bobcats will set a jersey launch for next summer (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell reports it "was appropriate" that the Pelicans' ownership group "advocated Thursday for unanimous approval of sending 'Hornets' back to Charlotte." The Bobcats thanked the Benson family "tangibly Thursday, saying the franchise is making a contribution to the Pelicans’ Gulf Coast preservation fund." The Bobcats still "haven’t said how far they will go in the makeover -- for instance, whether or not they will adopt the teal-and-purple colors." Stern said that he "believes this is an opportunity for the Bobcats to widen their fan base to those who have not taken to the NBA since the Hornets departed in 2002" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/19). The Hornets during their first incarnation in Charlotte "led the league in attendance for seven consecutive seasons," but the Bobcats "have struggled to gain that level of fan support." Team execs hope "that will change along with the name" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/19).

ON THE ATTACK: In Charlotte, Andrew Dunn in a front-page piece reports the Bobcats are "preparing a yearlong campaign to keep enthusiasm and sales high until the new brand takes the court" in fall '14. The team will "kick off a 'Buzz City'-themed, purple-tinged media blitz Sunday on billboards, newspapers, radio and the Internet." A Web video that "goes with it is heavy on civic pride and heritage, with the old logo and an old Muggsy Bogues jersey making appearances." Retro Hornets merchandise will be "up for sale almost immediately." The new "logo, colors, uniforms and the new dance team will follow soon." Whitfield said that the Bobcats in the past four weeks have "sold more than 600 season ticket plans, which will cover both this season and next." That ranks the team "in the top eight of the NBA in new sales" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/19). Also in Charlotte, Jacob Feldman notes Stern’s announcement was broadcast in two different downtown locations "to thousands of locals." It was the "culmination of an all-day celebration of Charlotte basketball’s history and future." The "present was sprinkled in as well." Bobcats tents "dotted the plaza" while "purple and teal banners hung overhead." A miniature version of the Bobcats team store was "exclusively selling Hornets gear, but the memorabilia still came in bags emblazoned with a now-endangered snarling cat" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/19). Team officials said that "2,000 season-ticket holders turned out" at the event (SI.com, 7/18).
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