The Pelicans Brief

Published: October 19, 2012

More rumors swirl regarding the rumored rebranding of the New Orleans Hornets, and we analyze them.

Fans will find any reason and any manner in which to suggest improvements to the team about which they are fanatical. It’s cute. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

The idea of rebranding the team started before day one, and it has persisted ever since in various forms. It’s a complicated issue, which, to me, implies that it will never be settled.

So, let’s do a quick recap.

Benson brought official fuel to the unofficial fire at his introductory press conference in New Orleans with Commissioner Stern. He said he wanted a team with local relevance and wanted fans’ help in getting this together.

Since then, there’s been no official comment.

In the following, bear in mind the typical waiting period has been widely reported to have been reduced to just one year. Let’s that this as given.

First, Angels and Spirit were floated.

Support: The strongest support for this name was unpublished at the time. After Mrs. Gayle Benson floated some ideas for colors and names in the local media, multiple people associated with the team in multiple different ways suggested Angels and Spirits were the two names getting the most talk (at the time). Within days, some business moves were made tying these names to addresses in Metairie.

Conclusion: This seems to have fizzled. The Secretary of State filings have since been associated with a t-shirt company. A reasonable explanation is then that there names were actually discussed in some capacity, and multiple people reacted to this information. Then, the team moved on for whatever reason. Perhaps it was just humoring ownership, perhaps it was a straw man, and there are other possibilities. Additionally, there are technical issues with Spirit discussed in the article.

Then, Voodoo took the stage.

Support: It’s mostly laid out in the article, but multiple sources across the Hornets and Voodoo organizations confirmed that there was an attempt to purchase the Voodoo brand. It’s a strong brand, it was created by Benson, and it has roots as a brand in fan support. The AFL held the Arena Bowl in town, so there was ample opportunity to talk brass tacks about a purchase.

Conclusion: I’m 100% sure about the information, which means I’m 90% sure it’s true. That’s as good as it gets unless I’m in the room with the guy with the check talking about it. I’m not discounting Voodoo until I see the AFL team take the field this Spring with that name, or until the team picks a another name.

Lately, Pelicans has been bandied about.

Support: Less well-supported information from the team indicates that the team is not only committed to a rebrand, but also has already chosen the name. This has been said before. This time, however, it was indicated that an announcement would be coming before the first of the year. This timing seems hasty and also inconsistent with the timing of recent rebrands of various sizes, which have come in the late Spring, excepting the Sonic-Thunder rebrand which was tied to the conclusion of lawsuit. This, however, is also a nonstandard circumstance. It also seems inconsistent with a one year waiting period, but maybe announcing the rebrand is not the same as actually rebranding.

The other key bit of support is that the colors are reported to include gray. This would likely preclude Voodoo. Other colors have been reported as part of the package, but gray is common to all of them.

Benson is currently the registered agent of “NEW ORLEANS PELICANS BASEBALL, INC.,” and it’s registered at the Airline Drive complex. It’s active and in good standing, unlike his other Pelicans holdings, which are inactive. Also, there was a recent filing . . . 10/15/2012. Since this is close to the same time of year as the original filing . . . 9/25/1992 . . . it could just be an annual report that was filed. It could, however, be something related to a rebrand.

For those that don’t know, the Pelicans were a baseball team based in New Orleans. Pelican Park was near the corner of Carrolton and Tulane. There was blip of a reappearance decades after the team folded. This is also why Benson’s business has baseball in the title. That’s an easy fix, though . . . it just takes a filing . . .

Let’s put aside for the moment that the Louisiana state bird is the Brown Pelican. That’s a common name for a species. Brown Pelicans can be gray.

Conclusion: There’s a good deal of circumstantial evidence here, but nothing as solid as the Voodoo move. The fact that it is being talked about now while Voodoo etc. have fallen out of conversation, to me, brings it equally up to the level of Voodoo.

And then there are the rest:

Hornets: With finances for the Hornets not looking as rosy as one may have hoped based on ticket sales, the lagging video board installation, and the dead money tied up in Rashard Lewis (at least), perhaps the expense of a rebrand is casting a favorable light on the Hornets brand. The team has cut back on many an expense, including complementary tickets, travel budget, and catering. Why add this expense? Or maybe those cutbacks are paying to get rid of Hornets.

Brass: This LLC is inactive. It’s out there for the taking. It remains popular, especially in the Jazz camp of rebrandistas. It’s got cultural relevance and recalls the city’s ECHL team that were effectively displaced by the arrival of the Hornets.

Krewe: An LLC was registered in April . . . to a guy in Abita. Another name with local flair. It could be used as New Orleans Krewe or Krewe of New Orleans, the latter of which would give a little twist relative to other NBA team names.

It’s not like the LLC name has to reflect the team name, but it is a partial reflection of the situation.

Messing around the SoS data shows that there have been many recent filings for companies like “NEW ORLEANS HORNETS NBA, LLC” and “BENSON BASKETBALL, LLC.” Why so many? Why do some not have a team name?

Who knows how these billionaires operate, especially those north of 80. Tucking things away in LLC’s and attaching CFO’s, trustees, and heirs into businesses is routine, especially have dropping a third of a billion on a business.

But there’s what we know as of today. It could be wrong, and it could change. As always, time will tell.

While we have your attention, don’t forget about the Hornets Open Practice Saturday at 10 a.m. at the New Orleans Arena.

Also, don’t forget that Chiba on Oak Street is offering a free dessert to Hornets fans.

So, here’s the deal: Go into Chiba, on Oak Street next to the Maple Leaf, sometime this week and show this to the staff: “Jason said Keith will give me a free dessert.” Order at least an entree without using any other discount, and the table will get a free dessert.* Bingo-bango.

* That’s one dessert for the table, and you can’t use multiple discounts. The guy’s being cool. Be cool back. They are closed Sundays. Also, this is good for any dessert, including their tempura bread pudding, bananas foster spring roll, and their fried mochi.


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