The three-day rollout of new minor league team logos came to an end Thursday evening when the Charlotte Knights kicked off their World Series party at a downtown convention center ballroom—just three blocks from where their new ballpark is being erected—with a surprise announcement: Their longtime logo is getting a makeover.
In the same way that the Triple-A International League franchise has outgrown Knights Stadium—its home for the past 24 years located 20 miles south of Charlotte in Fort Mill, S.C.—the team was also ready for a new look. So, before James Taylor's creative rendition of the National Anthem, the Knights monopolized the room's big-screen TVs with a brief, medieval-themed video that introduced a sharp-looking set of logos.
In place of the chess-board Knight that the team has worn for much of the past 24 years, is a primary logo that features a traditional knight's helmet resting in the center of a gold-colored "C" in the form of a horse's tail. The team will offer three secondary logos on black hats with gold and white accents. These include a jousting knight on a horse, and a pair of sword-themed images that include a winged-dragon and a stylized letter "K."
"We were looking for a classic look," general manager Scott Brown said. "We consider Charlotte a big league city, so we wanted something (that) screams big leagues but also has the flair of minor league fun . . . When walking down the street, we want someone to see the hat and know immediately that this is the Charlotte Knights."
Brown, who just completed his first season in Charlotte after three years with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League), says designing the logo with the San Diego-based firm Brandiose was a six-month project that included about 10 rounds of versions.
The announcement comes as the Knights put the finishing touches on BB&T Ballpark, the $54 million, 10,000-seat stadium scheduled to open on April 11. It's already become a hit in the city's "Uptown" district, as Brown says nearly all of the 17 luxury suites are sold out, as are both levels of club seating and nearly 2,000 field box seats. Brown said the ballpark is roughly 75 percent completed. Construction is scheduled to be finished on Dec. 31 with a February move-in date for the front-office staff.
"We are not having an offseason this year," Brown said. "Pretty much every day is exciting, exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. But it will be worth in on April 11."
The Knights' unveiling comes one day after the Arkansas Travelers (Texas League) revealed its new logos and two days after the new El Paso franchise introduced Chihuahuas as its new name.
Arkansas began building anticipation for its makeover late last season, when it held a retirement celebration for Shelly, the team's horse mascot of 17 years. The team further built anticipation for Wednesday's night unveiling by promoting a "Top Secret" party by hiding golden baseballs around Little Rock and encouraging fans to exchange them for prizes at its unveiling celebration
That carried over to Wednesday evening, when the Travelers introduced their first new logo since adding an alternate one when the team moved into Dickey-Stephens Park in 2007. Before that, general manager Paul Allen isn't sure when the team last spiced up its image.
Allen believes the new logo, which features a stallion with a capital A blended into its bridle, will help rekindle excitement in the team that has faded a bit since the opening of the new ballpark.
"This is our eighth year at the new ballpark. The honeymoon period is over,” Allen said, noting that the new design should appeal to old and new fans. “It has to be about the product that we have and not just excitement over the new ballpark.”
"It's a good, classic look. It keeps with our tradition. It doesn't throw memories away of teams for fans that have been with us for a long time."
The introduction of the Chihuahuas in El Paso has certainly drawn the most attention, both positive and negative, this week. The El Paso community has certainly embraced the team—it overwhelmingly voted last fall to tear down city hall and fund the cost of replacing it with a $64 million ballpark. They aren't as unified behind the new name.
The Pacific Coast League franchise, which spent the past three seasons in Tucson, selected Chihuahuas from a group of five finalists—bypassing names such as Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Desert Gators and Sun Dogs. Not everyone is sure they made the right choice.
An online petition asking team owners to change the name has already garnered over 9,000 signatures. Baseball America's story about the new name drew over 1,000 "likes" on Facebook and a debate in the comments section about whether Chihuahuas is suitable for a baseball team.
Team president Alan Ledford and general manager Brad Taylor assured fans at the unveiling that the new name will grow on them, especially once they step foot in the new ballpark, and asked for patience.
"I think within the next six to seven months you will see people embracing the brand," Taylor told the El Paso Times. "When they see all the great events we will host in the new minor major league park here in El Paso, they will see that this is what we are."
All three logos were designed by Brandiose, the company previously known as Plan B Branding that has become the go-to designers of all things wacky and irreverent for minor league teams. Brandiose is scheduled to have a fourth logo introduced on Monday—team TBA.