The New Orleans Hornets officially announced their name change to the Pelicans and revealed the team's new colors at a Thursday press conference.
The new nickname, colors and logo unveiled are set for use starting in the 2013-14 season. The colors will be blue, gold and red.
Hornets owner Tom Benson had made it clear after his purchase of the NBA franchise was announced that he had no use for the nickname that came with the team from Charlotte in 2002.
â€śThis is a great day for us. We gave a lot of thought and a lot of work into what this would mean to us. We wanted somethingâ€¦The New Orleans Saints means a great deal to this community, known throughout the world. Now, the New Orleans Pelicans, weâ€™re going to get it known throughout the world, too," Benson explained before a gathering of team dignitaries and local media members at New Orleans Arena.
"Our colors are blue, gold and red. Blue, gold and red are the same colors we have on the flag of the city of New Orleans," team president Dennis Lauscha noted.
"Literally hundreds of names were considered," Lauscha said. But the history of the the Pelican as the state bird of Louisiana and the name of the first professional sports team in the city (minor league baseball) were mentioned as key reasons why that nickname won out behind the scenes.
The introductory video explains that the Pelicans moniker represents Louisiana's wetlands, the resiliency of the state and now the city's NBA franchise.
The popularity of the most recent Hornets logo, the Fleur de Bee, was likely the inspiration for the Bird-De-Lis alternative logo among the five unveiled Thursday.
As for the Hornets nickname, it is expected that Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan will have interest in re-acquiring the rights to the name for his franchise.
Regardless of where the Hornets name may end up, the New Orleans team's main website with shifted to PelicansNBA.com.
Hornets television sideline reporter Jen Hale tweeted during the press conference that the team will often be referred to as the "Pells" much like the New York Knickerbockers are called simply the Knicks.
"We are witnessing at city that, in partnership with the Saints and Hornets, has completely reinvented itself just with the power of resilience. This name reflects that will power and that resilience," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "Let me just say it very simply I am pumped up about the Pelicans. None of this would have been possible without Mr. Benson."
The Benson family is hoping the metro area and the state have the same enthusiam for the changes as Landrieu.
Hornets Release: January 24, 2013
New Orleans Hornets Owner Tom Benson announced today that at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season, the name of the team will become the New Orleans Pelicans. A name that will represent the culture and resolve of the Gulf Coast region while also symbolizing Louisianaâ€™s most pressing initiative of coastal restoration and wildlife conservation. Benson introduced the teamâ€™s new logos, as well as color scheme, during the announcement.
The team will use and remain under the name New Orleans Hornets until the end of the 2012-13 season.
The teamâ€™s cornerstone community platforms will focus on two initiatives critical to the future success and prosperity of the Gulf South Region; the health and sustainability of our coastal wetlands and the health and fitness of our regionâ€™s children. The message of a healthy habitat, in which the Pelican thrives, will provide the centerpiece for a program of healthy living, exercise and education to that of protecting, saving and restoring our coastal wetlands and wildlife. The Pelican will serve as that symbol.
Perseverance and renewal have been hallmarks of our communityâ€™s resurgence and the Pelicanâ€™s remarkable recovery closely matches that of the Gulf South Region. The Pelicans will be more than a namesake for the franchise, as New Orleans, the State of Louisiana and the Gulf South have a rich history connected to the name. Represented on Louisianaâ€™s state flag and seal, the Pelican has been the state bird for over a century. The Pelican symbolizes the determination to not only survive, but thrive even when the odds are stacked against them as our region has demonstrated over and over.
â€śWhen we purchased the basketball team, it was a priority to change the name to reflect our culture, our community and our resolve. The Pelican does that,â€ť said Owner Tom Benson. â€śOur region has been hard hit in recent years and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to comeback, to fight and overcome. The Pelican symbolizes that. The synergy of this name, this bird and the future of our state and region are intertwined and in three, five, ten years from now, it will be not only be a name of a sports franchise but it will also be the face of the continued recovery of our region. We will promote healthy habitats, not only for our youth but for our community, our coast and our wildlife. The Pelican name will do that. It is more than a name. It represents our way of life.â€ť
The Pelicansâ€™ colors will be blue, gold and red. The teamâ€™s primary color, blue, is taken from Louisianaâ€™s state flag. The Pelicans and Saints will share the color gold, uniting the organizations, while celebrating the spirited life of New Orleans and its many celebrations (gold is also a commonly found color on the â€ścrownâ€ť of the pelican). Red represents fraternity and is indicative of the blood provision of the mother pelican and the vibrant color underneath the pelicanâ€™s throat. All three colors are found on the City of New Orleans flag.
â€śEstablishing the New Orleans Pelicans is a process of building a basketball legacy for our community that entwines our team image with the best qualities of our community,â€ť said Hornets Owner/Vice Chairman of the Board Rita Benson LeBlanc. â€śThe Pelican is not only the state bird of Louisiana, but it is also representative of teamwork, the positive synergy of group dynamics and, as weâ€™ve experienced recently here on the Gulf Coast region, regeneration. The strength, resiliency and loyalty of a Pelican are the core values our fans and team can be proud of. This identity change was an investment we had to commit to, in order to provide a fresh beginning for our fans. Forging a new and bright future for the Pelicans will bring awareness to the best of New Orleans, the Gulf South, and provide our fans with a team that they can identify as their own.â€ť
Details regarding the uniform will be relayed in the coming months. A limited supply of Pelican merchandise will be available exclusively in the team store at the New Orleans Arena beginning on Thursday, Jan. 24 and online at the Hornets team store (www.hornetsnestonline.com).
More information about the Pelicansâ€™ logos and brand can be found at www.pelicansnba.com.
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