The Gladiators of the ECHL have had a busy off season. First, they lost the Arizona Coyotes as their NHL parent club. Then they gained the Boston Bruins. Now, the team is changing their look entirely.
The team has officially branded themselves as the Atlanta Gladiators going forward. Atlanta has had two NHL clubs, the Flames and the Thrashers who both relocated to Canada. This is Atlanta’s first pro hockey team (or, pro hockey team branded as an Atlanta team) since the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to recreate the Winnipeg Jets.
“We are very excited to announce that our name will transform to the Atlanta Gladiators with the 2015-2016 season,” said general manager of business operations Joe Gelderman via a team press release. “We already consider ourselves to be part of the Atlanta sports landscape, and given the absence of NHL hockey in the area we want to make sure people understand that we are not just Gwinnett’s hockey team. We are the professional hockey team for all of the metro Atlanta community.
“We hope that incorporating ’Atlanta’ into our name will allow more fans to identify with us, and will inspire people from all over the metro area to continue to support and embrace our organization. This was not a decision we made lightly, and in doing so we made sure to consult with a cross section of our fan base, as well as some of our corporate partners. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly in support of making this adjustment.”
Gwinnett has seen quite the minor sports scene uptick in 2015. They gained a professional lacrosse team, who interestingly chose to brand themselves as the Georgia Swarm when they located there as opposed to Gwinnett or even Atlanta. Adding the Atlanta moniker makes the team seem a lot bigger, that’s for sure, but how many people will notice the team with the different name? Will it make a different?
It is also similar to the approach of several ECHL team the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. The team had previously been dubbed the Road Warriors, a name that actually made no sense. The team changed the name to reflect a regional aspect of Greenville (they apparently have a lot of Swamp Rabbits) in an attempt to build a sense of community. The Gladiators are going for that same approach, they are just attempting it in a different way.