Tim Leiweke is out to change the image of the Toronto Raptors.
Might that include a new name?
Not only does the new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment want to significantly improve the team’s on-court product, but Leiweke is also hinting at an entire re-branding of the organization.
“I will acknowledge that we absolutely have had conversations about the colour and make-up of our brand, our uniforms and our image,” said Leiweke during Tuesday’s conference call with reporters.”
Leiweke has been impressed with how the Toronto Blue Jays have branded themselves as Canada’s team and would like to take on a similar approach with the Raptors.
“We want to win the hearts and souls of Toronto first, and we haven’t,” said Leiweke. “I understand we have work to do there. We have an ambition to ultimately be Canada’s team. I clearly understand today that that is an ambition and goal we have not lived up to.”
While some believe the Raptors should follow the traditional Toronto colours of blue and white, Leiweke would like to brand the team on a national scale.
“To me, we should be all about the Canadian flag and Canada,” Leiweke explained. “There have been some specific conversations in the NBA about that.”
The Raptors appear to be targeting the 2016 All-Star Game, which would be the team’s 20th anniversary, as a key element of Leiweke’s rebranding plan.
“Clearly the 2016 All-Star Game is a flag in the sand with the NBA,” he said. “It is a must-have in my opinion. It will be the centrepiece of how we re-brand this. The change is going to be this: Toronto is not bidding on the 2016 All-Star Game. Canada is.
“That’s where we begin the change. If we can win it, that moment will be what we lead to as a re-branding and refocus on behalf of this organization to become an organization that, like the Blue Jays, acknowledges that we’re the only NBA team in Canada and we’ve got to start acting like it.”
The Raptors have tried to go national with their image when they switched their team colours from purple, black and red to red, white, and black – the colours of the Canadian national team.
While Leiweke has clearly emphasized the importance of rebranding the team’s image, a name change could make sense for the organization – since the Raptors name has not been synonymous with any sustained success.
We asked fans on Twitter for their best suggestions and here are some of the best names we have received: