Flying Squirrels has been selected as the name of Richmond’s new Double-A Eastern League affiliate.
If you ask me, the choice was made for all of the right reasons.
The target audience of minor league baseball teams are not the adults in Richmond who are forming petitions to protest the team name — and the choices suggested on that petition are at best no better than the ones the team nominated. Teams are looking to attract kids to the ballpark. Happy kids make for happy parents, a chain of events that usually results in spinning turnstiles.
A popular nickname and logo (Richmond’s will be designed by the talented Plan B Branding crew) can be quite lucrative for a minor league team. Just ask Dave Oster and the Lake Elsinore Storm — whose unique logo is donned on Little League jerseys across the country.
“We’ve liked (Flying Squirrels) from the start,” Domino said. “That was my favorite from the start. At one point or another, I’ve tried them all out for size, and at one point or another they all felt good to me for maybe a day or so. But as the process went on, I completely 360’d back to Flying Squirrels and I’ve been there now for several days with it as my favorite . . .
“At the end of the day we all came back to what we thought would resonate with the kids the most. The kids are the core of the business for us.”
Richmond residents certainly have every right to voice their opinions and displeasure. But Domino came to town with a wealth of experience in both launching a new brand (the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have been a hit in Allentown, Pa., both at the gate and the souvenir shop) and the Reading Phillies (which consistently finish near the top of the Eastern League attendance leaderboard despite playing in a ballpark older than The Diamond).
I have certainly had my doubts about baseball in Richmond in the past, and don’t believe a new ballpark will be built in the next four years. But having Domino at the helm, along with Todd Parnell and Bob Papierniak, certainly lends some legitimacy to the cause.
Domino, for one, doesn’t seem too concerned about any public backlash.
“There will be a little bit of a push back and you’ll get some angry comments and then it will settle back to business as usual,” Domino said. “That was my experience with the IronPigs. It settled down, and now you go to a Lehigh Valley game and you see grown ups walking around the concourse with pig snouts on their heads . . . I think we can do a lot with Flying Squirrels. It’s a very marketable name.”
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