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Intimidators’ name change gets Twitter reaction

By Dennis Davidson

dennis.davidson@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis minor league baseball franchise’s announcement to rebrand itself sure got some reaction on Twitter.

On Wednesday, the team launched its “Branded New By You” campaign and is asking community members to suggest names to help define the team’s new identity.

For 18 years, the team has been known as the Intimidators, named after Kannapolis native and NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, who was an owner of the team before his death in February 2001.

As the franchise moves toward a new era of baseball at the city’s new sports and entertainment venue, the team invited the community to help rename the franchise. The team will be still be the Intimidators during the 2019 season, the last in the current ballpark off Lane Street.

“I remember how proud dad was of this,” tweeted Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Wednesday. “What a shame it has to end.”

Earnhardt Jr., who retired from driving in 2017, but still owns a race team, offered some suggestions of his own:

“If a change is indeed imminent maybe: ‘Ironheads’ if they want to continue to honor Big E,” Earnhardt Jr. said in another tweet. And he added, “‘Cannons’ if they’d like to honor some history of the town itself.”

Earnhardt Jr. was no doubt referring to Cannon Mills with his second tweet, but many others tweeted that they were prefer to keep the Intimidators name.

One fan tweeted: “I got a good one. The Kannapolis Intimidators.”

Earnhardt Jr.’s sister, Kelley E. Miller, also commented on Twitter with “This is sad. No more Intimidators?”

Current NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski replied to one of Dale Jr.’s tweets as well: “This name is truly the only reason anyone outside of the town knows of this team,” Keselowski tweeted. “Not sure if this is an elective change or not but if so … bad move.”

The team’s announcement on Wednesday encouraged fans to submit their nominations for the team’s new name, along with an explanation of how and why it embodies Kannapolis professional baseball.

The team will accept submissions through Feb. 13th — next Wednesday.  Suggested names and feedback will be considered by the team as they work with award-winning brand identity firm Studio Simon to select a new name.

The Kannapolis team did not publicly comment on Thursday about the Twitter traffic, but did offer its own tweet: “We have received over 500 name submissions in the last 24 hours. Keep them coming!”

Kannapolis’ assistant general manager, Vince Marcucci, told the Salisbury Post on Wednesday that history is important to the Intimidators’ new ownership group, Temerity Capital.

“There’s nothing to say that the new name might not be related to speed or racing-related or Dale Earnhardt-related, but we just don’t own the rights to “Intimidators,” Marcucci said. “We do want to continue to pay homage to that part of our history and I know that we’ll have aspects of Dale and our history within our walls, and considering we’ll be within walking distance of his park, I think that’s going to be a big part of what we look to do as we create the atmosphere of the new stadium.”

The Kannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue will anchor the Downtown Kannapolis Revitalization Project. It is designed as a city park with daily access to the public, a kids’ zone and with the ability to accommodate special events year-round in addition to the 70 professional baseball games the franchise plays.

The venue, with a capacity of 4,930 for baseball, will feature luxury suites, picnic terrace areas, an outfield bar and 6,000 square feet of club/banquet space.

Marcucci added that moving into the new stadium is the perfect time for a rebranding.

“It isn’t our new ownership or anybody new with the team that is fueling the change,” explained Marcucci, “but it’s been tossed around over the past few years that with the new ballpark coming, it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to print the current logo and name all over a huge facility and then decide a year or two later to change — after you’ve spend time and money on building your brand in a new place.”

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