Bye-bye, Bobcats. Hello, Hornets!
Three hundred and sixty-four days after announcing they would switch, the Charlotte Bobcats officially became the Charlotte Hornets today. Team owner Michael Jordan wasn’t at the press conference this afternoon at Time Warner Cable Arena, but President and COO Fred Whitfield, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Pete Guelli and a good number of teal-clad fans were. A lot was said about restoring Hornets to Mecklenburg County, where it boasts centuries of history and was the name of the city’s first NBA team before it moved to New Orleans, but the press conference made clear that the switch from Bobcats blue and orange to Hornets teal and purple was mostly about the green.
According to Guelli, the team hopped into the top 10 of NBA season tickets sales last summer just on the promise of the rebranding, which will cost the team about $4 million. When asked if the price tag was worth it, Whitfield noted that the franchise has broken the nightly merchandise-sales record five times since announcing the impending changeover. This off-season — the Bobcats’ season ended when they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Miami Heat — the Hornets are No. 1 in the NBA in new season-ticket sales, and 90% of existing season-ticket holders renewed.
Ticket-sales’ rise mirrors the improvement of the team, which just three seasons ago recorded the worst season in NBA history. Last year, buoyed by free-agent signee Al Jefferson and rising-star Kemba Walker, the Bobcats made the playoffs for the second time in the franchise’s 10-year history. While Guelli says a sustained winner will definitely bolster the club’s bottom line, he thinks there would’ve been a similar surge in sales if the team still stunk — as long as they stunk as the Hornets. “We saw that success before we even stepped on the court this year. We simply announced the name — our season-ticket sales skyrocketed.”
Here are other upcoming milestones in the changeover:
June 5 — Hugo returns (“Much like the logo,” says Whitfield, “you will see similarities but with a refresh.”)
June 7 — Honey Bee auditions
June 19 — New uniforms are unveiled