Your Sky Sox jersey and cap are about to become vintage.
The minor league baseball team announced Wednesday that it will change its name to coincide with its upcoming shift in level and is asking the public’s creative assistance in the process.
“Change is good. You need change,” new general manager Chris Phillips said. “Especially for a brand that’s been kind of stagnant for a little bit. It’s a great way to kind of freshen things up a little bit.
“The call for entries is totally open. We want as many submissions as possible with interesting stories behind them.”
All are invited to recommend team names along with a brief explanation at the Sky Sox website through June 27. After that the team will whittle the list down to 5-7 options and again ask for public input in determining the winner, which will be announced in the fall.
A new name, logo and, in all likelihood, a new color scheme will then debut in June when the team plays for the first time as a Rookie League team after three decades in Triple-A.
The person submitting the selected name will receive prizes that include season tickets and an invitation to throw out the first ceremonial pitch of the 2019 season.
The rules are purposely vague to not stamp out creativity. Even the name “Colorado Springs” is not a requirement. Much like the Avalanche and Rockies use “Colorado” instead of “Denver” in the name. Pikes Peak, Front Range, whatever. If it fits with the brand, the Sky Sox will consider it.
The same is true for names that might spark a little ire.
"Controversy is passion," Sky Sox media relations head Shane Philips said. "We want people to have natural, organic conversations.”
Shining a spotlight on the team is part of the reasoning behind the decision to change names, as team leadership hopes that will help it further explain the complicated situation the team is facing. The Triple-A team is leaving for San Antonio and is being replaced by a short-season rookie-level club that operates under the same ownership umbrella.
Also, re-imagining the brand could lead to what Chris Phillips calls a “Disney approach” with focused, all-encompassing marketing campaign and stadium experience.
The example Phillips used was the El Paso Chihuahuas. The name was not immediately accepted by the community, but the team held firm. It then introduced the “Barking Lot,” for cars, a “Wooftop Deck” in the stadium and even serves nachos in a dog bowl.
The Chihuahuas are among the top-selling brands in the minor leagues.
The Sky Sox envision lining up branding efforts and even stadium renovations with whatever direction the team name takes them, and they’re willing to entertain names as crazy as the new monikers for the New Orleans Babycakes and the Staten Island Pizza Rats (a temporary name announced this week).
“That’s minor league baseball,” Phillips said. “That’s why it’s awesome. We’re not a major league team. We’re not the Dodgers or the Yankees or the Rockies; let’s have fun with it. Especially at this level. You can do way more and have a lot more freedom to get a little bit crazy.”
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Want to make a pitch at naming the Colorado Springs minor league team but are reluctant for fear of a lack of knowledge of baseball, or minor league baseball? All you need to know is that most team names come from a few broad areas, as is evidenced by other teams in Colorado.
Geographic features: As with the Colorado Rockies (MLB) or Colorado Rapids (MLS), the land – or water – can often contribute a team name. In an area that includes Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls and Cave of the Winds, there could be plenty of options in that area.
Natural dangers: The Colorado Avalanche (NHL) join teams like the Carolina Hurricanes (also NHL), San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) or Brooklyn Cyclones (MiLB) in adopting the name of a frightening act of nature for their name. In this area, wildfires certainly come to mind as a frequent danger.
Wildlife: The Denver Broncos (NFL), and NCAA teams like the Air Force Falcons, University of Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams each plucked their names from regional wildlife. It’s not a problem if the animal is extinct, as the Colorado Mammoth (indoor lacrosse) have shown. UCCS has already claimed Mountain Lions, but black bears, mule deer and many other animals common in this area remain up for grabs.
History: The name of the Denver Nuggets (NBA) strikes at the state’s mining history. The Major League Lacrosse Denver Outlaws touch on the Wild West heritage. That’s a common approach. Colorado Springs was founded by Gen. William Jackson Palmer, was obviously visited by Zebulon Pike, was home for a while to famed inventor Nikola Tesla and has deep roots in mining, military and religion among other areas that a history buff could turn into great fodder for a name.
Trends: People in Colorado love to hike, thus we have the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL). The Sky Sox’s parent club is the Milwaukee Brewers, which has led to club to expect a submission for the name Microbrews – given Colorado’s reputation for quality beer.
Off the wall: Looking outside of the state, the Albuquerque Triple-A team grabbed the name Isotopes from a fictional team on “The Simpsons.” The Las Vegas 51s adopted the name of the secretive nearby government property.