Friday, April 19, 2013

Leave the Buzz behind

Robert Kutrow of Charlotte wrote for the Hoofprint at Myers Park High School until graduating and enrolling at UNC Chapel Hill. He still follows events in Charlotte closely. Kutrow, 19, offered this perspective on the NBA Bobcats considering whether to reclaim the old Charlotte Hornets name.

            On Jan. 24, the New Orleans Hornets announced a campaign to rebrand the franchise as the New Orleans Pelicans, slated to begin this upcoming offseason. The announcement kindled a frenzy of speculation among Hornets-loyal Charlotteans regarding a potential homecoming for their beloved mascot, Hugo Hornet, and his colors.

An online campaign advocating for the return of the Hornets entitled “We Beelieve: Bring Back the Buzz,” proliferated quickly through social media. It has garnered more than 18,000 likes on Facebook, especially among those 25 to 34 -- the generation raised on Hornets basketball.

            During the Bobcats’ meeting with season ticket holders this past Tuesday, many Beelievers expected the rebrand announcement they have anxiously awaited, only to hear NBA commissioner-to-be Adam Silver say that the rebrand process would take 18 months at minimum. However, Silver was photographed holding a We Beelieve sticker following the conference, and seemed supportive of the movement, according to the group’s Facebook page.

            Retro Charlotte Hornets merchandise is certainly en vogue at the moment; Cam Newton was spotted donning a Hornets hat while seated next to Michael Jordan at a Bobcats game, and even tween sensation Justin Bieber has been photographed in Hornets apparel. The “throwback” gear is synonymous with 90’s fashion: a vivid purple and teal color scheme, snapback hats, and Starter jackets.

            But an NBA franchise based on a nostalgic cultural appeal is not a functional business model. The expected cost of a rebrand for Charlotte’s basketball team could be up to $12 million, with no real guarantee of a revenue boost for the team. The Bobcats have conducted market research on the subject, but so far this has not been released to the public.

An initial spike in ticket sales and merchandise could be expected, but continued interest and sales is a gamble. What many advocating for this change seem to forget is that changing the colors and the uniforms will not change the skill level or entertainment value of the team that set the record for the all-time worst season just last year. Fan interest would wane as the “Buzz” wore off and the team continued to perform poorly.

Perhaps we should allow the Charlotte Hornets logo and colors to stand as a memento to a golden period in our city’s history. The acquisition of our first major professional sports franchise marked the crossing of a threshold from one of America’s up-and-comers and into the big time. Through the rose-colored lenses of nostalgia, we should remember the success and diehard fan base of the Hornets as the result of a city in a growth spurt. Let’s not tarnish this memory by applying those revered jerseys to a team playing so far beneath par.

Further, our loyalty to Charlotte basketball, whatever it may be called, should be rooted to a sense of pride in place rather than a set of brash, 90s colors and a logo. We don’t need to be called the Hornets to play like a hornet’s nest of rebellion.


51 comments:

Rick said...

A voice of reason finally stands out.

Archiguy said...

The name "Hornets" has historical ties to this region; the Bobcats do not. Furthermore, the team never would have left in the first place if David Stern had stood up to George Shinn and denied the move. Shinn, who had become a pariah in Charlotte, would have then been forced to sell the team. New ownership would have moved in and the team and all the goodwill it generated would have remained in town. Who knows, we may have won a championship by now.

The smartest thing this team could do is reclaim the Hornets name and colors. It's the ONLY thing that will rekindle interest in pro basketball here in Charlotte. Jordan would be crazy not to seize this opportunity.

Chris said...

WOW I don't even know where to start ripping in to you for this. The hornets name BELONGS in Charlotte. It should have never left. Take the team, but leave the name behind. That name has history here dating back to the civil wat. the name "bobcats" means nothing at all. Its about having a since of pride in your team (even the players). If you play for a team that means nothing to the city then you have no motivation to push yourself. The Charlotte fans will get behind the Hornets which will intern push the team to play harder. Do I expect an instant jump to the playoffs? No, nobody does, but just the BUZZ around the team should spark an improvement.

Jen said...

The team started as the Hornets and still should be the Hornets.

A "smart" business model is to give the fans what they want. Give the customer what they want and you will increase your business.

We want the Hornets name back. Bobcats has never felt right.

Derek Moore said...

Most team names are disposable. Heat, Magic, Hawks .. Panthers for that matter. But the name Hornets has meant something to this city for 240 years. It meant something back in the 80s and 90s, too.

The name Bobcats reminds me that Shinn stole our team. I want the Hornets back.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I am so tired of this lame argument. Do people not understand that the way the team plays and the logo have little if anything to do with each other. We who are asking for the Hornets name aren't saying "hey we should trade all of draft picks for the next three years to New Orleans to get the name back". We want a good team as well. Here is the problem the Bobcats have never been one! If this writer (which can I ask why the Obs. is taking op ed pieces from a 19 year old) wants to talk history can we look at the history of the Bobcats?
1. It is not a good team nor has it ever really been one. Went to the playoffs once and were swept in the first round.
2. There are no founding fathers. This team has a reputation of trading off or letting walk every player they get! Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton, the list goes on. No wonder we care more about the name than the players, we know the players will be gone next season!
However, if we are rebuilding to be great, let the greatness be attached to the favored name, the Hornets.
Can we please lose the Bobcats name in an effort to put all of this behind us and start anew with the team we love!

Idlewild said...
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Idlewild said...

And we should listen to a 19 year old with minimal life experience why?

Andrew Beaty said...

Robert, nobody is "forgetting" that changing colors doesn't change the skill level of the team. We're very well aware of that. But the Charlotte Hornets had attendance records year after year not because they were consistently winning, but because they were "our" team in basketball-crazy North Carolina.

You mention that the "buzz" will wear off once the team continues to perform poorly - but who's to say it will? While they are still young, and have a long way to go, Charlotte is beginning to get a nice core together. A few more draft picks and a free agent, and we've got a respectable team.

But for your article here, some of your numbers are just flat our wrong. You mention a rebrand cost of $12 million. Every estimate I've seen is right at $3 million. The team would make up that $3 in merchandise and ticketing.

Like others have said, the Bobcats have never truly felt like "our" team.

Andrew Beaty said...
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Thomas said...

1) this kid is 19 and has never been apart of the Hornets in any way.

2) where the heck did he come up with the number $12 million, when they have publicly said it would only take $3 million to re-brand the team.

3) EVERYONE WANTS THE HORNETS BACK. QUIT WRITING ABOUT STUPID STUFF LIKE THIS. GIVE ME THE HORNETS

Heyoooooooo said...

The Hornets name has been gone longer than the ACTUAL EXISTENCE of the Charlotte Hornets. Get over it. Most people that live here weren't around back then. We run the show now and I got one thing to tell ya.....GO BOBCATS!

Heyoooooooo said...

The Hornets name has been gone longer than the ACTUAL EXISTENCE of the Charlotte Hornets. Get over it. Most people that live here weren't around back then. We run the show now and I got one thing to tell ya.....GO BOBCATS!

James said...

Let's Go Cats!! MJ already did what he needed to do to appease the BBTB crowd by removing "Bob" from the name. Now focus on the team we have and quit with this trivial BS.

Andrew Beaty said...

Heyoooooooo, that's just flat out wrong. The Hornets existed from 1988 - 2002 (technically 1985 - 2002 though). That's 14 years. The team has been gone for 11 years.

jbjonesclt said...

Hey why even have a team name at all. Why don't we just call it "The Charlotte Professional Basketball Team"

Chris said...

James .... you are also flat out wrong. the team name is still the BOBcats. All MJ did was take BOB off the jerseys. Nothing has changed.

John Morgan said...

Anybody else find it funny that they had to find a teenager living 3 hours away to find someone who doesn't support the rebrand?

Charlotte Hornets 2.0. It's happening.

Rick said...

Wonder if all these Hornets fans have been NO Hornets fans since the team left?

ktown8 said...

Bottom line, the BOBcats name, logo, and colors suck, and being last in NBA merchandising proves this. Who cares if you like the Hornets name or not. It's better than the BOBcats and no one can dispute that. BOBcats will forever be a reminder of a failed owner and franchise. There's a reason they have changed logo, color schemes and uniforms 3 times in the last 5 years. No matter how good the team is or the number of tweaks they do to the colors, logo, and unis, they will always suck. Bring back the Hornets brand.

John said...

... you and the horse you rode in on. Business advice from a dying newspaper company. Talk about irony!

Marc said...

This is clearly written by somebody who does not see the big picture and has not been around enough to see what this name to this community really means. I am not trying to downplay your personal opinion solely based on your age, but too many people have come out in favor of this movement to have a 19-year old raining on their parade now.
First of all, as many others mentioned before, the 12 million dollar figure is overblown.
Second, you think that sticking with the Bobcats name is a smarter business model than going back to Hornets? Have you been outside lately? I cannot walk around in the mall or anywhere else around town without seeing Hornets stuff. I see people going to work wearing Hornets jackets, drinking coffee out of Hornets mugs, high school kids wearing Hornets hats. How many Bobcats shirts, hats, mugs do you see on a daily basis?
Your argument is, simply put, flat out wrong. How can you even connect the product on the court with the name on the jersey? This is the lamest, and only argument pro-Bobcats-name supporters have. This does not have anything to do with how the team performs. Have you been to a Bobcats game lately? How many people did you see cheering for a 21-61 team wearing Hornets apparel? Heck, even the homeless guys in front of the arena are wearing Hornets Starter jackets. Please do not falsely believe that the Bring Back the Buzz folks are anti-Bobcats. No true supporter of this movement thinks that way. That's because we are all in this together. We are Charlotte basketball fans at the end. We are privileged to be one of the few cities with a NBA franchise. If you don't feel that way, then I'd recommend asking Seattle how it feels not having a team anymore. You could even ask Sacramento in a few weeks once the relocation goes through.
Back to my original, and last, point: MJ and the gang have a layup presented to them from a business perspective. I personally know more than a few people that have signed up for season tickets the day of the season ticket holder survey just so that they can be a part of that. Ask the ticket office how many people signed up that day. I'd be curious to see that number myself. The Hornets fans outnumber the Bobcats fans worldwide. This will never change. Look up any major international online retailer for fan gear, go to the search box and type in Charlotte. I bet you'll find Hornets stuff much easier than Bobcats stuff. Revenue-wise, the costs for the re-branding can be recovered in no time. You cannot tell me that selling Bobcats merchandise is a smarter business move than selling Hornets merchandise. Lastly, (I promise, this is it) having the Bobcats at the bottom of merchandise sales anyways, would you not be intrigued by the possibility to generate more revenue? That's a risk MJ is willing to take, I can assure you that.

Davis Williams said...

No one is disputing the fact that wins and exciting play is the main goal for Charlotte basketball. The Hornets coming back will assure us of a spike in ticket and merchandise sales, as you pointed out. With the Bobcats likely becoming a playoff contender in the 2014-2015 season, we only need to sustain that "buzz" for a year until we are playing a worthy, exciting brand of basketball which will again lead into another spike in ticket and merchandise sales. The Hornets last few years were far, far from spectacular attendance-wise due in part to the team's play but mainly the owner at the time, George Shinn. I agree in part to what you are saying and you seem like a smart kid so you know to truly understand the love, pride, and joy, fans would have for when Charlotte basketball dons the Hornets name with the teal and purple colors, you'd have to be 6-15 years older at the least.

Drew Papadopulos said...

Rob, while I agree with the fact that the name won't change the product on the court, I can promise you as long as we are the "Charlotte Bobcats," no one will ever take this team seriously.

Cameron DeJong said...

I was 19 years old and an idealist at one point too. Part of being an idealist is also thinking I knew how to do certain things that 14 years later I look back and say, "Wow, I really didn't know all I thought I did when I was a teenager."

I find it unfortunate that the Charlotte Observer would give this young man the opportunity to cause such a fuss with his commentary. Perhaps the Observer received this editorial and thought it was so out of touch with reality, that by this standard alone it was published. One can only hope.

When I traveled 700 miles three months ago to take part in a Bring Back the Buzz event at the TW Arena, I didn't expect what I saw. I was humbled and appreciative of the thousands in attendance - who either went wearing teal and purple - or who cheered on those who were. There was a buzz in the air that night - a buzz that would exist even with a 20 win team...it happened before...it can happen again...I look forward to seeing it happen.

misterglover said...

funny part is half of the people on here hardly pay to go to the games anyway. I went to hornets game as a kid and young adult, and I have went to most of the Bobcats games since they came about. I go because the name on the front says Charlotte, not because of a stupid nickname. Just give me an entertaining product. Leave the hornets name in the past,and this comes from a loyal fan and ticket buyer.

Jim said...

The venom over an exceptionally well-written opinion piece by a 19 year-old is astounding to me.

Mdizzy5 said...

I agree. It's time to move on from the Hornets folks. Lets move forward.

Freedom Huggins said...

Let's move on forward toward what, the Bobcats? Charlotte Hornets equal passion. I want to feel passionate about Charlotte's teams. Including the Panthers and the Charlotte 49ers. Bobcats unfortunately never replaced our I felt about our "Hornet" rebellion.

John Morgan said...

@Jim: I don't see any 'venom', I see a bunch of folk picking apart a poorly-researched, erroneous piece. I get that it's an 'editorial', but the author provides no basis for his argument; essentially, it boils down to "don't do it, because, you know, like...just don't".

I suppose it's "well-written" (and I'm curious, does that mean "well-written for a teenager"? Because it's being featured on the home page of a major newspaper's website...this isn't some essay contest), but it's poorly-conceived, from top to bottom. I have no problem with respectful dissent, but get your facts straight, and for god's sake, have something other than anecdotal predictions to scaffold your opinions.

Also, yeah...Hornets.

Topher said...

Why over analyze this? This guys argument against a name change is weak. Here's a simple way to look at it. The Bobcats logo and color scheme are ugly and generic. The Hornets logo and color scheme are unique and popular among fans. End of story. It's just a sports team. Not a human being. Not an ex girlfriend. What's wrong with nostalgia in sports? You act as if there's something to loose. What's to loose? Nothing. Jeez.

Unknown said...

One major thing I disagree with is that it is a flawed business model.

To me, having a lame nickname and horrid colors that no one really likes results in a flawed business model (how much do the bobcats make off of merchandise now?)

the Hornets name and logo wouldnt just sell off of nostalgia, but also off of being a better nickname and color scheme than the current ones.

The only reason people buy merch right now is to support the team. But add in the aspect of actually wanting the merch because you like the colors and name plus the previously stated reason, and you find much more revenue.

I hardly see people wearing bobcats merch at games. And even way less in public. But i see Hornets stuff all the time and in different cities.

To me, using Hornets is actually a much better business model.

BleedCrimson&White '98 said...

So is this young man the son of the Observer attorney Brad Kutrow? I don't know many 19-year- old college students that get an op ed column in a large national paper based upon writing for a high school newspaper as a general rule. So glad you are at UNC, young man, but you don't get the reality of sports fans and what makes them tick. I'm not even from here, but I moved here right after the team was yanked out of Charlotte and I get that the return of the name Hornets will help make this team REALLY feel like the city's again. We need Bob Johnson totally expunged from this city. I'm a Spurs fan, but I'd go to some Hornets games other than that one game per year.

mdizzy5 said...

If New Orleans had never used the name "Hornets" than I'd be on board but for Charlotte to take back "Hornets" after its been used in another city for over a decade...I'll pass... No need for us to take the name especially with no former team history involved.

Woody Lay said...

First off, this kid has grown up in the charlotte region his whole life, just because he goes to chapel hill doesnt mean he doesnt know what the feeling of charlotte towards the issue is. Also, yeah we all agree that being called the charlotte hornets again would be cool, but would that change our mediocre players on the court? It would only set us up for the NBA team of Charlotte to move again and for us to lose our hornets for the second time.

Hugo Hornet said...

I can't wait to see all 10 of the Bobcats' fans cry when the team is renamed the "Charlotte Hornets." Someone post a picture of this UNC kid crying all the way from Chapel Hill.

Sam Hofmann said...

First off, where did the $12 million number come from? From everything I've heard the number is $3 million.
Secondly, you make it sound like the Bocats are and will be stuck in the basement of the NBA when in reality, the future is very bright for this franchise with possibly 4 first round picks in the next two years and as much as $21 million in cap space. We have the tools to be a playoff team very soon. That, coupled with a name change I believe would spark an enormous revitilization for Charlotte basketball.
While I understand the name change has nothing to do with success on the court, it could very well coincide with it. If the market research shows that we will gain money from a rebranding, which it seems like it would, this is an easy decision.
I am a die har Charlotte basketball fan regardless of the nickname, but the Hornets belong to Charlotte. BRING BACK THE BUZZ!

Justin Plummer said...

When I was 5 the Hornets started playing basketball in Charlotte. When the author of this piece was 8 the team left Charlotte. I have a sneaking suspicion that his opinion on the name change has more to do with his daddy being scorned by the team move due to all the "wasted" money spent on attending Hornet games.

Justin Plummer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc said...

@mdizzy5 - there is more than twice as much Hornets history in Charlotte than in New Orleans.

@Woody Lay - "Also, yeah we all agree that being called the charlotte hornets again would be cool, but would that change our mediocre players on the court?" - This is the worst argument you guys have. No name in the world could change team performance. That only happens through good draft picks and smart front office moves to get veteran players.
"It would only set us up for the NBA team of Charlotte to move again and for us to lose our hornets for the second time." - You clearly just wrote this sentence to make your comment appear longer. I'm sorry but this is a baseless point that has nothing to do with the original argument of the author.

Mark Kaylor said...

I live 30-40 minutes from Charlotte and have no real ties to the city. I once had a tie to the city which was as you said the first sports franchise for our sfate. I loved the Hornets and everything they stood for. They were not just Charlottes team they were NC's team. A lot of fans such as myself had already formes an allegiance to other pro sports teams in the NFL and NHL before the Panthers and Hurricanes came along. This has made it hard to root for these teams because of the feeling of letting our loyalty to these teams falter. After George Shinn took the Hornets away it left a bad taste in my mouth for the NBA that has kept me from becoming that loyal fan of the Bobcats. If someone breaks into your house and steals something that is sentimental to you like a pocketwatch that was owned by your grandfather. You go on Ebay with the insurance money and buy one that is identical to it. You are telling me that you would not take the original one back if it was found 10 years later? You say it is not the same thing but it is. Someone stole our Hornets. We have got a new version and have tried to love them the same. But it is not the same.

CH said...

the pro Hornets crowd is mostly the 20-30 year old generation that can't let go of their childhood

the reason nobody in the front office really cares what they say is because they don't have any money to spend. thats why all their get togethers take place in the upper corner of the arena and their chants are barely audible during the broadcasts even though they're doing it during the home teams free throw attempts. hilarious and pitiful

Danman said...

What's all the fuss? We will retur to our rightful name, HORNETS, and MJ will recoup the cost, (3 million) in the first season, probbly lots more worldwide. We fore sure know it won't happen with bobCats. I promise this will happen in the next 18 months. It makes no sense not to.

Jay Wellwood said...

Well....as already pointed out - why do we take comments seriously from a 19 year old...but I digress.

Bottom line is this - if Junior had done his homework, he would obviously recognize the fact that Hornets are synonymous with Charlotte. Guess he skipped out on the part of History class.

Seriously - if the Celtics moved out of Boston - and the name became available again - do you think there would be a movement by Bostonians to regain their?identity? I think we all know the answer that that obvious question.

IMHO, the Charlotte NBA franchise owners should revert back to the original mascot - make a big play on welcoming Hugo back home this upcoming season (kind of a Where in the World is Carmen San Diego approach)...might even play with having Rufus take a few trips...who knows what creative marketing could be done to create the hype. This is such a unique opportunity to create above average momentum for fan involvement that it really boggles the mind on how much media and fan attention could garnered by this.

SOMEONE IN THE HOME OFFICE NEEDS TO WAKE UP!!!

Toby said...

The NBA allowed Shinn to take our heritage. The association of Hornets with the region dates to 1780!
The NBA last week made it clear that they are willing to right this wrong. The change is likely to be around 3 million.The
NBA now controls and benefits from sales of all Hornets merchandise at the very time the colors are trending and MJ is releasing his teal and purple line of Jordan's!
Michael MUST give Charlotte back it's name or this franchise will not survive what can only be seen as a selfish blunder.

Garett said...

You are 19 yrs old and do not have any kind of clue what the Hornets meant to this city. The team is rebuilding and will be a really special team in the near future. Now is the perfect time to get rid of the name NOBODY (or maybe I should say about 5% of people, according to all the online polls)wants our team associated with. With that said, it's gonna happen whether you like it or not. Charlotte Hornets!

Andy Perez said...

There is very little that I can add to this that hasn't been echoed by nearly everybody who has posted on this. All I can do is make the echo louder.

As a 6 year old kid moving to a new city, my first relationship with my new city before it was any friends, teachers or neighbors was the Charlotte Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets helped me identify with this city, and as I read all these comments, I am not the only one. I have seen more of a fervor in this city to bring back the Hornets than there was one for the 2010 Bobcats playoff run, and I went to BOTH home playoff games.

For any nay-sayer, they always bring up the $$ as a validation for not making the change. I can echo once again that Hornets gear outsells Bobcats gear around the country, but there are some things more valuable than money. The love of Charlottes first professional sports team that gave the city a sports identity is worth way more than the risk to leave it the Bobcats. The nay-sayers will also say that Hornets or Bobcats, they still have a weak team. Should I remind you that in 1999 when the Michael Jordan era bulls ended, Chicago had a bunch of rough years where they had a poor team as well... BUT THE FANS STAYED WITH THEM! They love the Bulls because it is THE IMMAGE OF THEIR CITY. The image to our city is Hugo. 97% of Charlotte is for Hugo.

Tom Benson (The owner of the New Orleans PELICANS) said The nickname Hornets "didn't mean anything to this community" Just maybe we should take a cue. This upcoming season we will all keep a close eye on the Pelicans. If a name change to bring the Louisiana community together brings revenue, fans and support for the team, You can't give me one good reason why that wouldn't happen in Charlotte! I promise you two things. 1) The first game the Pelicans play in Charlotte, they will be greeted with applause and 2) If Michael Jordan doesn't pull the trigger on this, it will be the biggest mistake of his career.

Soulsay said...

The author states how popular Charlotte Hornets merch is right now, then goes on to day it doesn't make business sense to capitalize on the popularity.

Guess they aren't offering logic courses in chapel hill, huh?

Anyway, the fact is, the Bobcats have much more to gain by changing the name, than they have to lose. Let's say the excitement does indeed wane. So what?

Soulsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gbo said...

If Everyone loved the Hornets so much why was the Hive empty for the last 5 years they were here??? Why was there a curtain hiding the upper deck?? Yes I know George was not a good role model, but that's not a valid reason To completely ignore the team that you supposedly love. Those teams were still named Hornets And Wore purple and teal, And No One Cared.
When the Bobcats made the playoffs I went to both home games, and the arena was alive and fulL.... put a winner on the floor, that's all that really matters! GO Bobcats!!