New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson announced Thursday that the name of the team will change to the New Orleans Pelicans, beginning in the 2013-14 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 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. The synergy of this name, this bird and the future of our state and region are intertwined and in three, five, ten years from now, it will be not only be a name of a sports franchise but it will also be the face of the continued recovery of our region. We will promote healthy habitats, not only for our youth but for our community, our coast and our wildlife. The Pelican name will do that. It is more than a name. It represents our way of life."
The name was changed to the Pelicans largely due to its connection with the state of Louisiana. It has been the state bird for over a century and can be found on both the state's flag and seal. The team's colors will be blue, red, and gold.
The team's primary color, blue, is taken from Louisiana's state flag. The Pelicans and Saints will share the color gold, uniting the organizations, while celebrating the spirited life of New Orleans and its many celebrations (gold is also a commonly found color on the "crown" of the pelican). Red represents fraternity and is indicative of the blood provision of the mother pelican and the vibrant color underneath the pelican's throat. All three colors are found on the City of New Orleans flag.
The team kept the Hornets nickname when it relocated from Charlotte for the start of the 2002-03 season. New Orleans previously hosted the Jazz from 1974-79 until the franchise left for Salt Lake City and kept the moniker.