Thursday, January 08, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers!

The fine folks at Fair Grounds Field are doing what they can to resurrect significant interst in minor league baseball in Shreveport. They're bringing back the name "Captains," which is cause for celebration. For a couple of seasons, the team was known as the Swamp Dragons. That flew like a frozen turkey. When that franchise moved away, another one came to town and went way back in history to grab the name "Sports," which did very little except confuse people.
So now, with an updated logo and a mascot that looks more like a pirate than a riverboat captain, here we go again. You can take that a couple of ways. The whole Pirate thing was done in the 1990's when the Candian Football League had a team (The Pirates) in Shreveport for two seasons. It was great fun and nobody disliked the logo, so maybe this new incarnation of baseball branding homogenizes the two.
Personally, I'm rooting for this to make a difference. Some of the happiest days of my life have been spent inside that ballpark, especially when the old Captains were prominent. In fact, in 1987, we took our wedding guests to a game so we could relax and enjoy one another's company.
A lot of people are saying "it's about time" on this move. The club's ownership had an "aha!" moment in 2008 when they did a "turn back the clock night," featuring throwback uniforms. They threw back to the Captains and it was their best-attended game of the season.
Oh, and for the record: they're hoping to tie in both communities by expanding the name to "Shreveport-Bossier Captains." Both mayors spoke at the announcement. Hey, it can't hurt.
It seems that people really don't care about the quality of baseball. Winning makes a difference in attendance for the other minor pro franchises in town. It's just more fun if you win Arena Football or hockey games, but baseball is a different kind of experience. Maybe just feeling good about the team's image will help.
Let's hope so.

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1 comment:

Chuckles said...

Well you know what they say...stick around long enough and the past will repeat itself. Funny thing tho... when Mandalay Entertainment bought the "Captains" and did the "Swampdragon" namechange.... locals didn't embrace the change..however the team's licensing logos shot up to among the top 10 in franchise merhandise logo / souvenir sales because of the uniqueness.... so the "brand-namechange" did succeed. Alas, the game attendance dropped to among the last in the league. Could be cyclical...could be that this area's middle-class disposable income being weaker than average had something to do with that.

So after the "Dragons" left town... the return to the original "Sports" was a stab at nostalgia as that was what the Captains were before they were Captains. But as usual... game attendance was about as consistent as a politician's platform during re-election season. I think the problem with the attempt at nostalgia wasn't fully executed on a consistent basis. You know how it goes...the marketing committee comes up with a kernel of an idea but doesn't fully develop nor implement it...hoping it will take on a life of it's own without much nurturing and effort. It spikes for a bit and then fizzles as branding needs nourishment and constant attention.

Oh well.... hopefully the return to the "Captains" will encourage some of the Boomer generation who long for the simple pleasures of a bygone era to bring the family for simple, clean family-fun. As for the pirate-looking mascot.... my gut tells me this has as much local appeal as a "dragon" image, but hopefully the "brand" will be nurtured and developed instead of being a half-baked idea to simply serve as a logo identity.

Personally... I think the team logo / mascot could be an adaptation of a "Popeye" type character with his Captain's hat and sporting a bat with muscled arms... but a Pirate with a cutlass? Just doesn't grab me by the gut at first glance...and that's what a logo should do.