Michael Jordan brought the buzz back to Charlotte when he announced the return of the Charlotte Hornets at a press conference Tuesday evening. According to the Charlotte Bobcats chairman, the Hornets will be back in the Queen City in time for the 2014-15 season.
For many Charlotte residents, this news felt like a long time coming.
The Hornets name has major historical and cultural ties to the city of Charlotte. According to the Mecklenburg Historical Association, British general Lord Charles Cornwallis called Charlotte “a hornet’s nest of rebellion” after city residents drove the British out of the area in 1780.
For well over a year prior to the official announcement, grassroots movements to “bring back the buzz” to its home city had continued to build momentum. The louder these movements became, the harder they were to ignore.
“We spoke to our season ticket holders and fans, and overwhelmingly you guys wanted the Hornets name back. And we went out and brought the name back,” Jordan said.
The poll was conducted in February of this year to gauge which brand ticket holders and randomly selected residents in the area would support the most. Shortly after the poll was complete, Jordan vaguely referred to the results as “very mixed.”
Several other sports and non-sports related organizations conducted polls of their own prior to the rebranding, including ESPN, all of which showed unanimity for Hugo’s return to the Queen City.
In the press announcement, Jordan recalled his Chicago Bulls years when he came to Charlotte and witnessed the energy of the Hornets community. He expressed hope in rekindling that energy once again.
“Let’s bring the buzz back, and bring that energy back on the basketball court and make this city proud again,” Jordan said.
For the past two seasons, the Bobcats were 28-120, the worst record in the league. Critics of the rebranding have noted the improbability that bringing the Hornets name back to the team would equal more wins.
“Changing the name does not guarantee that we’re going to be a playoff-contending team. We still have a lot of work to do to build that. I’m not walking away from that. It is what it is,” Jordan said.
According to Jordan, an application to the NBA board of governors was sent earlier Tuesday informing them of his decision. Jordan seemed confident that the board would approve the name change when they convene in July.
When asked what would happen to the Bobcats name come the 2014-15 season, Jordan seemed unattached and apathetic. Jordan said that the NBA would likely retain the Bobcats name and that it would available for another franchise to adopt.
Although the likelihood of another team willfully affiliating themselves with the marketing nightmare of a franchise like the Bobcats is slim to none.
What is for sure is that Charlotte is happy to have its Hornets return home. The “Bring Back the Buzz” Twitter page changed its name to “The Buzz is Back.” The “We Beelieve: Charlotte…take back your Hornets!” Facebook page finally posted “Hey, Charlotte… YOU JUST TOOK BACK YOUR HORNETS.”
An NBA-run website was created that sells season tickets from 8 dollars per seat with a free “Buzz City” performance warm-up jacket with purchase. According to sources, “over $1 million in new sales since the announcement broke.”
According to NBA deputy commissioner and COO Adam Silver, the name change will likely take up to 18 months to fully complete. The uniforms, buildings, signs and equipment all need to be taken into account.
Whether or not Jordan plans to bring back the signature teal and purple is still undecided.
Tweets from the Hornets Nest:
- @wmitchellbenson: @PelicansNBA thanks for taking care of Hugo for us, tell him he can come home now… #backthebuzz #buzzcity
- @settleAbenji: Just called the @bobcats office to ask bout tix and I said I’m so pumped the Hornets are back & he said we all are!! #BuzzCity
- @JeffHillUNC: Charlotte’s getting @NBA team called #Hornets. Party like it’s 1988. #backthebuzz
- @_plyer: This name that means absolutely nothing to our city can finally be put to bed, about time fans have something to be proud of #backthebuzz
- @Cybahram: haven’t bought a single bobcats jersey, been waiting for this Hornets change. #BacktheBuzz