I gotta be honest, when I first about the new El Paso team's new name, I was ... incredulous? That's probably as good a word as any. Seems to me that CHIHUAHUAS violates one principle rule of team naming: The great majority of Americans can't spell it. Hell, the only reason I remember is because of how Les Nessman pronounced it (chee-HOO-uh-HOO-uh). But hey, it could have been a lot worse!
El Paso's new Pacific Coast League franchise announced Tuesday that, yes, they will be known as "The Chihuahuas" in 2014 and beyond. The smallest of the world's dog breeds was chosen over four other finalists in a "Name The Team" contest that garnered over 5,000 submissions, triumphing over Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Desert Gators and Sun Dogs.
El Paso general manager Brad Taylor said Chihuahuas was chosen as the team name because they "represent fun and are fiercely loyal." The region's fans were able to submit names through the team's website. The list was narrowed based on creativity, marketability, fun, relevance to El Paso's unique character and the ability to trademark the name.
"El Pasoans played a significant role in identifying our new team name -- they attended focus groups, suggested several hundred different names, and voted in record numbers for all the names," said Alan Ledford, president of MountainStar Sports Group.
Though fan voting played a significant part in determining the club's new name, it was not the sole factor in the selection process.
"Through the entire [branding] process, our focus was on fun and on finding something that could appeal to kids," added Taylor. "You have to believe in the brand, and stand by it, because the brand isn't just something that people hear -- it's something they see."
Aardvarks is a stupid name, because there aren't any aardvarks in El Paso. Or anywhere else in North America except zoos and idiots' back yards. Desert Gators is a stupid name because there's no such animal. Sun Dogs is an affront to all right-thinking citizens. Buckaroos isn't bad, but would make more sense for a team in Boise, or Butte or Bend or Bakersfield.
I do believe that choosing a name because of its ability to appeal to children is somewhat misguided. Children don't buy tickets, or guide local opinions. They do whine for t-shirts, which should be a consideration. I'm just not sure it should be the main consideration. I have to admit that I do think they came up with a pretty sweet logo ...
... and the secondary logo's nod to the parent club is pretty nifty, too. Oh, and I like the lettering. All things considered, I find my theoretical objections beaten down by the actual execution. The facts on the ground, if you will.
Finally, here's a take from my friend Mike Curto, who's going to have to say Chihuahuas into a microphone many times next season:
Former PCL broadcaster Brett Dolan jogged my memory when he wrote on Twitter that Chihuahuas reminded him of when a new Midwest League franchise in Battle Creek, Michigan named itself the Battle Creek Golden Kazoos. Response was swift – they changed their name before playing their first game! After running through several entities, that team now has a magnificent name: the Great Lakes Loons.
That’s not going to happen in El Paso. They made a big production of the Chihuahuas name, and management is referring to "the Chihuahuas brand" in interviews.
El Paso Chihuahuas. Get used to it.
We can get used to anything, I guess. What's the abbreviation going to be, though?