The New Orleans Hornets plan to announce the official change of their nickname to the Pelicans and unveil their new colors and logo during a news conference Thursday, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The new nickname, colors and logo will be used during the 2013-14 season. The colors will be blue, gold and red. Yahoo! Sports first reported the expected change Dec. 4. The Hornets had been expected to change their identity since being purchased by Tom Benson on April 14.
Benson owns the rights to the nickname Pelicans. It has not been determined when Pelicans merchandise will be available.
The Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, which is known as the Pelican State. The Pelican is also on license plates, the state flag, the state seal and the state painting. The bird symbolizes Louisiana’s environmental recovery from oil spills. There was also a minor-league baseball team in New Orleans called the Pelicans from 1887-1959 and 1977 of which Benson was fond.
The name “Pelicans” has received a lot of criticism from Hornets fans and NBA followers. During the news conference, a video is expected to be shown explaining the history behind the nickname and what it means to New Orleans and the state. There was similar resistance when the Seatte SuperSonics changed their nickname to Thunder when the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, but now the nickname is widely accepted.
The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002. Some fans are hoping the Charlotte Bobcats change their name back to the Hornets, considering the change in New Orleans. A source said the Bobcats will do their due diligence in considering a switch back to the Hornets, but nothing is imminent.