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Friday, December 9, 2011


When St Catharines council approved new spectator facility on Monday one of the small caveats was that there would be an investigation into changing the name from the Niagara Ice Dogs to the St Catharines Ice Dogs.  My initial thought was that it was no big deal, and that people would not stop coming just because the name became localized rather than regional.  Upon reflection, maybe its a bigger deal than I thought.  The Burkes have marketed this team as a regional team from Day 1, holding open practices in areas outside of St Catharines.  The strategy has worked.  A large part of the fan base comes from outside St Catharines.  Maybe the name is a big deal, particularly if your team has been marketed regionally from Day 1.   Now that there is a 4500-5000 seat facility to be built, no marketing stone must be left unturned to fill the building.  With that in mind, the wiser choice would be to keep the Niagara Ice Dogs name.  In the long run St Catharines may not get the name it wants, but it will retain all that outside money coming into the city from paying customers from Niagara Falls, Welland, Grimsby, Port Colborne etc. 

OTHER NAME AND NON NAME CHANGES Changing the first name of a sports franchise likely is more impactful than changing the nickname.  Some name changes have made no difference, others have.  How about those franchises that change cities but don't change the nickname.  Sure seems curious, particularly if the nickname of the team reflects the city or the demographic. Here's a partial list.

New Orleans Jazz to Utah Jazz- unless there is a thriving jazz beat in Utah that I don't know about, this made little sense, but now no one blinks an eye

Mineapolis Lakers to Los Angeles Lakers- Again, more reflective of Minneapolis and the nickname City of Lakes, the move to LA meant no change, and now the Lakers are one of the top selling brands in the NBA.

Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans Hornets- no real demographic change here. I'm guessing both cities have Hornets.  Now, if it were the Charlotte Flairs after legendary Charlotte native Ric Flair- different story Wooooo!

Atlanta Flames to Calgary Flames- Likely an homage to Atlanta being burnt up from Gone With The Wind.  The fire theme made it to Calgary and stuck. 

California Angels to Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- The last one is just plain silly

New Jersey Nets to become the Brooklyn Nets in the next couple of years.  Doesn't matter where you put the franchise the Nets are still sad sack

LA Raiders to Oakland Raiders- With the mystique surrounding the Oakland Raiders of the 70's, they never should have changed this name

Anaheim Mighty Ducks to Anaheim Ducks- The Disney allure gone, and the Flying V a relic of the past, the Mighty was dropped from the name.  The name Ducks does not exactly breed intimidation.

Washington Bullets to Wizards- The only nickname change that the NRA likely petitioned about.  This one was long overdue. 

York Yeoman/Yeowomen to York Lions-  Tradition traded for a silly cartoon lion! 

Queens Golden Gaels to Queens Gaels- Again, tradition went the way of the Dodo bird for a more sleeker name. 

Florida Marlins to Miami Marlins- A new stadium begets a new name.  Uniforms are the real issue here.  They are beyond bad!

Oh there are more, but this was a list off the top of my head.  Even Toronto flirted with using the Jays more than the Blue Jays, and what about the Raptors?  The dinosaur phenom has long passed.   This is a franchise in dire need of a new look.

Maybe we'll save athletes changing names for another time.  So World B. Free, Metta World Peace, Chad Ocho Cinco and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, don't worry your time will come.

Shakespeare asked "What's in a name?"  Well, when its the cornerstone of your core marketing ,a lot!

Steve Clark

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