Hornets officially announce name change to Pelicans
The New Orleans Hornets will play the rest of the season under their current name and the change will be effective with the start of next season. However, the New Orleans Hornets have already started marketing merchandise under the Pelicans logo.
The pelican is featured on Louisiana’s state flag and seal. A Brown pelican was also chosen as the state bird in 1996 with efforts to restore Louisiana's coastal wildlife. The previously endangered Brown pelican was taken off the list of endangered species in the region during 2009.
“The message of a healthy habitat, which the pelican thrives,” the New Orleans Hornets released in a statement on Thursday, “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.”
Previously, the Hornets decided to keep their name despite moving from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002. But after new owner Tom Benson brought the New Orleans Hornets in April, he gave indications of bringing around a name change more fitting of Louisiana. A name that could be a better representative of the “culture and resolve of the Gulf Coast region,” which was hit hard by the Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 followed by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and in 2010.
“When we purchased the basketball team, it was a priority to change the name to reflect our culture, our community and our resolve,” Tom Benson said in a statement announcing the Hornets’ change of name to Pelicans on Thursday. “Our region has been hard hit in recent years and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to come back, to fight and overcome. The pelican symbolizes that.”
There were five names and logos proposed for the change, from which the Pelicans was selected. Tom Benson also holds the rights to the Pelicans nickname, which was only briefly occupied by a New Orleans minor league baseball team from 1887-1959, and then again in 1977.
The New Orleans Hornets’ name change will also bring about a transition from the team’s purple and gold colors. Besides featuring a pelican, the new logo will also revert to a more common palette of blue, red and gold.
However, the new colors will not be introduced to the team’s uniforms until next season.