Five months after the finalists were announced, Gwinnett has its new name. Baseball world, say hello to the Stripers.
“In baseball, you always have to be ready for the curveball,” Gwinnett GM North Johnson said after the name was announced, before noting that Big Mouths was the original choice. “You will love us, hook, line and sinker.”
The team announced the winner on Friday morning in a ceremony broadcast over Facebook Live. Stripers beat out the original six candidates, the Buttons, Gobblers, Lamb Chops, Big Mouths, Sweet Teas and Hush Puppies. Each name had ties to the region, but it’s also notable that Gobblers was a finalist last offseason for the new name in Binghamton, which settled on the Rumble Ponies.
The change is significant because it represents just how far the rebranding phenomenon is spreading. Atlanta owns all of its minor league franchises except for high Class A Florida, and up until this point all of the teams used the Braves’ nickname as well. Once drafted by Atlanta, a prospect would play for the GCL Braves, the Danville Braves, the Rome Braves, the Florida Fire Frogs, the Mississippi Braves and the Gwinnett Braves.
“They’ve been in that marketplace for 50 years,” Gwinnett general manager North Johnson said of the Atlanta Braves when the finalists were announced this past summer. “They’re an international brand, and we just feel like a lot of our marketing efforts haven’t really gone to promote us as opposed to the brand.”
Now, that changes. Gwinnett either last or second to last in the International League in attendance every year since 2013. Introducing the new Stripers name opens plenty of new avenues for merchandising revenue. Plus, changing a name can also help at the box office.
The Jacksonville Suns became the Jumbo Shrimp last year and saw 23.2 percent attendance bump in year one. The Binghamton Mets became the Rumble Ponies and drew 10.1 percent more fans than they did in 2016. The New Orleans Zephyrs became the Baby Cakes and had an attendance bump of 3.1 percent. It’s worth noting, too, that each of these rebrands was helmed by Brandiose, which also oversaw Gwinnett’s new name.
A year from now, Gwinnett might reap those same benefits.
On Thursday, the Birmingham Barons introduced a little bit of new artwork with the release of their alternate, “Magic City” uniforms. The logos, designed by local firm Big Communications, will debut during the 2018 season.
“It’s hard to believe we broke ground on Regions Field just five years ago. We’ve been so proud that the ballpark has been a focal point for the resurgence of Downtown Birmingham, and all the magic that it has brought to our great city,” Barons general manager Jonathan Nelson said in a statement. “We want to continue the magic in the upcoming seasons, and this new uniform is the perfect way to pay homage to our vibrant, booming city.”
The most notable feature of the uniforms, besides the “Magic City” across the chest is the writing on the left sleeve that says “Birmingham: The Magic City,” in homage to the Rotary Trail sign just outside of Birmingham’s Regions Field.
The Barons are the fourth team to rebrand or introduce new merchandise this offseason, joining Gwinnett, Augusta and Hudson Valley.