The original Hornets wore teal and purple jerseys. (Andy Hayt/National Basketball & Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)
The Charlotte Bobcats announced Sunday that their team colors will become purple and teal when the franchise changes its moniker to the "Hornets" for the 2014-15 season.
The color combination was used by the original Hornets, who played in Charlotte from 1988-2002, and will be supplemented by three secondary colors: gray, black and light blue. Together, the new colors will replace the Bobcats' current scheme, which includes dark blue, orange, gray, white and light blue.
"It was important to us to acknowledge the heritage of the Charlotte Hornets when bringing the name back to the market," Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said in a statement. "The purple and teal color scheme was instantly recognizable as being associated with the original Hornets and we felt it was only appropriate to utilize the colors once again with this historic brand."
Here's a look at the new color swatches.
The new team colors for the Charlotte Hornets. (Bobcats)
By comparison, here's a look at the Bobcats' current colors on their latest jersey designs, which were unveiled in 2012.
The Bobcats unveiled new jerseys in 2012. (NBA.com)
The decision to return to the Hornets' original color scheme is no surprise, but the Bobcats did conduct an extensive survey of public opinion before pulling the trigger on the switch. A team press release confirmed that the survey results were in line with conventional wisdom: that the Hornets' colors, which were among the most popular and recognizable across the country during the early-1990s, still had staying power.
As part of the survey process prior to the decision to change the name, Harris Interactive surveyed the Charlotte community, as well as current season ticket holders and team sponsors. In each of the three groups, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed were in favor of using the purple and teal of the original Hornets as the colors of the rebranded team.
The Charlotte Observer reported additional thoughts on the colors from Bobcats executives, who noted that season-ticket sales are up this season in anticipation of the return of the Hornets.
“We thought it was very important for us to listen to our fans and the overall community. There seemed to be an overwhelming desire to pay homage to the legacy of the Hornets, from their time here before,” Bobcats President Fred Whitfield said. “We listened to our fans, and that’s what led us in this direction.”
Pete Guelli, the Bobcats’ chief marketing officer, said polling of the Charlotte market indicated about 80 percent support for a name change to Hornets, and support for bringing back teal-and-purple ran nearly as high.
One interesting point about the accent colors: that “light blue” looks an awful lot like Carolina blue, a color Bobcats owner Michael Jordan wore as one of the Tar Heels’ all-time best players.
“We understand it’s an important color to the region,” said Guelli of the blue shade. “It scored high in our survey and was part of the original Hornet color palette.”
To promote the new color scheme, the Bobcats -- who have already been referring to Charlotte as "Buzz City" -- will launch a "Painting the City" marketing campaign, which includes images of a basketball being doused in purple and teal paint.
The Bobcats are launching a marketing campaign around their new colors. (Bobcats)
Jordan announced in May that the Bobcats would re-brand as the Hornets shortly after the New Orleans Hornets relinquished the nickname by becoming the "Pelicans" for this season. The original Hornets joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1988 and spent 14 seasons in Charlotte before being moved to New Orleans by former owner George Shinn in 2002. Shinn opted to keep the nickname but eventually sold the franchise to the NBA in 2010. In April 2012, the league sold the franchise to Tom Benson, who sought the Pelicans name change to better reflect the team’s home.
The Bobcats joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 2004. Jordan purchased a majority stake in the Bobcats in 2010. While Bobcats are indigenous to the Carolinas, the Charlotte Observer noted last December that the “Charlotte Hornets” moniker drew its inspiration from the 1700s.
The Hornets nickname in Charlotte dates back to the Revolutionary War, when British General Charles Cornwallis compared the resistance in Charlotte to a hornet’s nest. It has been used in sports by a minor league baseball team (1901-73), an upstart football league team (1974-75) and the city’s first NBA franchise.
The transition from Bobcats to Hornets will also include new logos, uniforms, mascot, dance team and court surface.
The Bobcats are 7-7 and chasing their first playoff appearance since 2010.