NEW ORLEANS -- Tom Benson is looking to re-brand and re-launch the New Orleans NBA franchise he is spending an estimated $338 million to acquire.
Benson says the name "Hornets" means nothing to the city. He's asking fans for their help in coming up with a new nickname.
Folks heading to lunch on Poydras Street in the CBD were happy to oblige, giving a long list of names including "Louisiana Shrimp", "The Pelicans" (after the state bird and former minor league baseball team), "The Crescents" (like the bend in the river that gave New Orleans its nickname), "The Humidity" (it's not the heat, it's the humidity), and "The Hurricane."
Other fans suggest New Orleans should try to reclaim the name of its first NBA franchise, the Jazz. According to Commissioner David Stern, that name will likely stay in Utah, the team's home since 1980.
"I would say it's fair to assume, going in, that each of the other 29 teams will maintain the ownership of their names," said Stern. "I'm sure there are ways to look at that, but I'm sure there are other great names."
Veteran New Orleans advertising executive Peter Mayer said now is the perfect time to rename the Hornets.
"It's an opportunity for the Hornets to move forward with a new name, a new owner," said Mayer. "A name is very, very important, particularly if it makes a connection in your mind to something good, to something memorable."
Mayer, whose firm has done work for Benson's other team the Saints over the years, also said there should be a contest to rename the Hornets.
"I think that would be the way to go because that would unite the community in a common cause," Mayer said. "They're united already, but this would be fun."
According NBA rules, any team with the intention of changing its name, logo or uniform must apply to the league 25 months before the start of the season in which it intends to unveil the change.
The final decision rests with the NBA's 30-member board of directors.