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Relocation brought identity challenges

MIKE BALDWIN Published: July 2, 2009
"It’s not like the Hornets.”

That was a frequent comment from fans early last season.

It was inevitable the Thunder would be compared to the Hornets, who played 71 home games over two seasons in the Ford Center following Hurricane Katrina.

Comparisons, though, were unfair due to the challenges of relocating a franchise from 2,000 miles away.

Team officials wanted to give Oklahoma City its own identity. They chose to leave the Sonics nickname in Seattle and devised a new nickname, color scheme, logo and mascot.

"The game presentation was started completely from scratch,” said team chairman Clay Bennett. "It was all we could do to put the pieces in place. The most important thing was to support the competition on the floor with a highly-interactive fan experience. It took us some time to develop.”

The team didn’t have a team logo, colors, nickname or mascot until six weeks before the season opener.

To accelerate game development, fans were invited to give feedback on music, videos and skits by using dry erase boards.

By the time the Christmas holidays arrived, game presentation improved dramatically.


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