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The Charlotte What?! 

Sell the team-naming rights

Now that the arena deal is more or less done and an owner has been selected, the next step is selecting a nickname for the team. Yes, we know, the Observer's running a poll, but you can just imagine the kind of crap that'll come out of that. We're here to help. Many people would like to see the name Hornets return, but unless we show up at George Shinn's doorstep with a lot of money, that's not going to happen. Plus, we have a better idea.New owner Robert Johnson is starting out $300 million in the hole after paying for his entrance ticket to the dance. How will he make it back? We all know he'll be selling naming rights to the new arena. But why stop there? Why not sell the naming rights to the team itself?

Let us suggest some possibilities -- before Lynn Wheeler commissions a $5 million exploratory panel:

The Charlotte Dukes Sponsored by Duke Power, The Dukes would have synergy with the Queen City's nickname. However, every time there's a storm, the team would face the prospect of blacking out on the floor.

The Charlotte Observer The local daily fishwrap could score a real marketing coup with this team name, but there's the potential for embarrassment when the team consistently loses to new CBA expansion team The Gaston Gazette.

The Charlotte Loafers CL would gladly consider sponsorship of the team name, but being the Loafers would necessitate the return of Derrick Coleman and we couldn't live with ourselves if we did that to this community.

The Charlotte Boas Sponsored by Bank of America, the Boas would strive to be the most admired team in the league by making basketball work in ways it never has before. One potential trouble area would be if, despite winning games, the team does not score the projected number of points set at the start of the season by team management. Replacing experienced American players with contract players from Bangladesh might have unexpected results.

The Charlotte Hackers This name would be appropriate for any of the tobacco companies in the state, or even possibly Microsoft. The problem with this name might be the propensity for the team to get into foul trouble.

The Charlotte Frontrunners Sponsored by the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Frontrunners would project the positive image of the city the CCVB likes to peddle. It would also accurately reflect the nature of average Charlotte sports fans.

The Charlotte Continentals Co-sponsored by Continental General Tire and Bistro 100, this name, too, would project a sophisticated image of a city rife with savoir faire, je ne sais quoi, pommes frites, la plume de ma tante, and other French words.

The Charlotte Incontinentals If Continentals doesn't work out, they could always get Depends adult diapers as a proud sponsor -- they should at least sponsor the beer concessions.

The Charlotte Pilots Sponsored by US Airways, the team's arena could then be sponsored by the Charlotte Public Library, since almost every book has a Chapter 11.

The Charlotte Polecats A name appropriate for sponsorship by NASCAR. Unfortunately, if NASCAR gets involved, Bruton Smith will likely demand rule changes regarding the aerodynamics of Shaquille O'Neal's sneakers after every game. In that light, another possible sponsor for this nickname is The Uptown Cabaret.

The Charlotte Cokeheads While Charlotte is in fact home to the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the country, given the current state of the NBA, this might prove to be a bit too much truth in advertising.

The Charlotte Lacklusters Sponsored by Charlotte City Council. Hey, they've given away everything else to get a team here, why not make it official? Other possibilities for a council-sponsored name are the Corporate Puppets, the Blands, or the Spot On The Road After Being Steamrollered By The NBA. Again, though, it may be a little too much truth in advertising.

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