The New Orleans Zephyrs on Tuesday released the seven names on which fans will be able to vote for the team’s new nickname.
They are the New Orleans Baby Cakes, Crawfish, King Cakes, Night Owls, Po’boys, Red Eyes and Tailgators. They were picked from among 2,539 submitted last month on line by the public. A least one is the result of a combination of nicknames by Brandiose, the San Diego-based firm in charge of the rebranding the Zephyrs.
“I’d characterized (the nickname finalists) as the flavor of New Orleans,” Zephyrs general manager Augusto “Cookie” Rojas said Wednesday. “It really is a collective representation of what it means to be from Southeast Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans region.”
Fans will be able to vote beginning Thursday on zephyrsbaseball.com for the nickname they prefer to replace Zephyrs, which came with the franchise when it moved from Denver in 1993. New team owner Lou Swechheimer wanted a nickname that better reflects the city and region, and he said he feels a rebranding will pump energy into the franchise and its fan base.
Brandiose owners Jason Klein and Casey White visited New Orleans on May 10-11. They met with Zephyrs officials and toured the New Orleans area speaking with season ticket-holders, corporate and community leaders, then local historians. Klein and White then came up with the nicknames from those submitted.
Baby Cakes was derived from a combination of king cakes, which as we know contain a plastic baby, and area people referring to each other as “baby,” which Klein and White noted during their tour.
“They counted the times people would say, ‘It’s OK, baby,’ or ‘That’s right, baby,’” Rojas said. “So that was from a cultural aspect.”
Night Owls refers to New Orleans’ night life and caught Brandiose officials’ eye because it goes well with night-out promotions team officials are planning at the ballpark.
Tailgators is a combination of alligators, indigenous to the region, and the tailgating for which baseball, and sports, is known, particularly in this region. And Red Eyes refers to crawfish.
Voting will continue for two weeks. Brandiose then will craft artwork, logos and colors for the next step, Rojas said. Minor League Baseball will be a part of it every step of the way.
“We don’t want to come up with some colors, for example, and one of the hat manufacturers can’t produce that color.”
Officials said they expect to unveil the new nickname after the season ends. Klein said it’s a long process even after the fan vote.
“The fan vote is an important factor, but it’s not the only factor,” he said. “And then we will unveil (the nickname, logos) between October and December.
“The uniform will be unveiled after the logos, and if there’s a new mascot, that will be unveiled after the logos.
“So there’s going to be a lot of unveilings and lead-ups to opening day of next year.”
After the league approved the nicknames, which carried no trademark infringement, team counsel Walter Leger reviewed it. The team was set to announce the seven earlier this week, but that was held up.
“One of the names just had too many different connotations when it comes to social media and Website usages,” Rojas said. “It was reflective of the ancient history of New Orleans going back to pirates and the days of the Carribean, being a place for refuge here in New Orleans.
“When you look at it through social media and other domains, it came back as non-family oriented. So we decided it’s best we take that off the list.”
There were other names, Klein said, that were taken off, including Rougarou — a werewolf in French Louisiana lore.
“We have to be able to use the nickname well in a logo and in promotions, things of that nature,” he said. “We felt some of the names would be frightening to kids.”