The New Orleans Hornets will officially become the New Orleans Pelicans for the 2013-2014 NBA season, the team announced Thursday, putting the Hornets name up for grabs should Michael Jordan decide to return it to the Queen City.
The team will use and remain under the name New Orleans Hornets until the end of the 2012-13 season.
"When we purchased the basketball team, it was a priority to change the name to reflect our culture, our community and our resolve. The Pelican does that," said Owner Tom Benson.
"Our region has been hard hit in recent years and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to comeback, to fight and overcome. The Pelican symbolizes that."
Benson owns the rights to the nickname Pelicans, which used to be a minor league baseball team.
The Pelicans' colors will be blue, gold and red. All three colors are found on the City of New Orleans flag.
The brown pelican is the state bird and has become symbolic of efforts to restore Louisiana's fragile coast, which has been hit hard by the 2010 BP oil spill and erosion from major storms.
The Charlotte Bobcats have remained relatively quiet on the issue until earlier this season team owner Michael Jordan said in an interview he would be interested in changing the team's name should the Hornets nickname become available.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal hinted that he supported the Hornets name moving to Charlotte.
"I think it would be appropriate. If the owners and community want the name back I think they should have it," Jindal said.
On Thursday evening, Bobcats Sports & Entertainment President & COO Fred Whitfield released a statement today after the announcement was made.
"We are aware of the impending change regarding the team nickname in New Orleans," Whitfield said. "We are currently in contact with the NBA and conducting our own due diligence relative to this matter. We will not have any further comment until we have completed this process."
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a native of the Queen City wants the Hornets name back.
"I'm not promising that it's going to help win games. They have to do something on the court," Foxx said.
A marketing and research firm is currently polling season ticket holders to see what they think about re branding the team
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