The Charlotte Hornets will be back in the National Basketball Association after the league’s owners approved a change from the club’s nickname of Bobcats.
The switch, which will go into effect after next season, was unanimously approved by the 29 other teams at the league’s board of governors meetings yesterday in Las Vegas, the NBA said in an e-mailed news release.
“The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched,” said Michael Jordan, chairman of Bobcats Sports & Entertainment. “With the young team we are developing on the court, the direction of our business and the return of the Hornets name, we are extremely excited about our future. The buzz is back.”
Charlotte’s first franchise was nicknamed the Hornets from 1988 to 2002, when the club moved to New Orleans. The name became available this offseason when the New Orleans franchise became the Pelicans.
Hall of Fame player Jordan announced the franchise’s intended swap in May in front of a screen that read “Back The Buzz.” The team has offered two-year ticket plans at BackBuzzCity.com, and held a celebratory rally last night with former Hornets players including Dell Curry and Muggsy Bogues.
“Making this change would not only re-establish one of the most recognized brands in sports, but would also unify our fan base by bringing together our loyal Bobcats fans with those who have fond memories of our city’s NBA predecessor,” Jordan, 50, said at the time. “Our fans spoke and we listened.”
The Bobcats were 21-61 last year after finishing 7-59 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history. The team has made the playoffs once, in 2010, and has never finished above fourth in the five-team Southeast Division.
The Hornets name dates back to the Revolutionary War, when British General Charles Cornwallis called Charlotte’s local militia “a veritable nest of hornets,” according to the team. The name was used by a minor-league baseball team in Charlotte from 1901-73 and a World Football League team in 1974 and 1975.
The original Hornets NBA franchise relocated after the 2001-02 season. Two years later, Charlotte was given a new team named the Bobcats, and this offseason New Orleans changed its name to the Pelicans to better represent the culture of the Gulf Coast region, clearing the way for North Carolina’s most populous city to reclaim the nickname.
Before submitting a formal application to the NBA in May, the Bobcats conducted market research that showed season-ticket holders and the general public were in favor of the Hornets name, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Re-branding after yesterday’s approval, including designing a new logo, merchandise, redoing signs around the city and resurfacing the courts in Time Warner Cable Arena and the team’s practice facility, will cost about $4 million, the newspaper said.