Wednesday, 18 January 2017 11:58

New name part of complete rebranding of baseball team

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City of Swift Current Councillor Chris Martens checks out a baseball cap in the new colours of the Swift Current 57's baseball team after the official unveiling of the new team name and colours in council chambers at Swift Current City Hall, Jan. 10. City of Swift Current Councillor Chris Martens checks out a baseball cap in the new colours of the Swift Current 57's baseball team after the official unveiling of the new team name and colours in council chambers at Swift Current City Hall, Jan. 10. Matthew Liebenberg

The Swift Current 57’s baseball team, formerly known as the Swift Current Indians, will take to the field this summer to defend their 2016 Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) championship title under a new name and in new colours as part of a complete rebranding of the team.


The team’s new name and colours were officially unveiled during an announcement in council chambers at Swift Current City Hall, Jan. 10.
“We’ve been considering this for probably the past 10 years and it came to the point where as an organization we just felt as though it was time to go in a little bit of a different direction,” Swift Current 57’s Senior Advisor of Baseball Harv Martinez said.
The club wanted to change the team’s name as a proactive step and to use the name change as a rebranding and marketing opportunity.
“It just gives us the opportunity to be a little bit more creative and it gives us the chance to do some things that were a bit limited with regards to the previous name,” he said.
The official announcement of the club’s intention to change the team’s name took place in September 2016. There were about 100 suggestions for a new name and the re-naming committee created a shortlist of possible names that was announced through social media, but the response to those names were mixed.
“It’s interesting how the process kind of unfolded, because when we did float those initial names we heard considerable backlash on that,” he said.
The committee had additional discussions with people in the community, including those who have been associated with the team for a long time, and there was a clear message from those  with they had discussions.
“They made it real clear that the legacy of the name Indians was important and as we started to consider keeping that in mind and folding that into our thought process, then the name 57’s or the number of years just seemed to be a good fit,” he said. “So once all those pieces started falling together it just really gave us a chance to twin both the idea of what we’ve done and where we want to go.”
A former player, Cole Armstrong, came up with the suggestion to use the number of years that the team was called Swift Current Indians as the new name. Swift Current 57’s Coach and General Manager Joe Carnahan felt it is fitting the suggestion of the new name came from a former player who is also from Swift Current.
Carnahan has a long association with the team, both as a player and coach, and he believes it is important to keep a link to the team’s past through the new name.
“Absolutely, especially in our situation where we’ve had such a great history, great tradition,” he said. “I’ve been part of it for 16 years now and still talk to guys who I played up here with my first year and they still talk about their time up here in Swift Current.”
Mike Mutlow has the distinction of being the first club president under the team’s new name. He is a long-time fan and he has been a board member since 2010.
“I think it was probably long overdue when you see what we’ve done here,” he said about the name change. “It’s pretty cool. This gives us a chance to rebrand and move forward and it’s something new for us.”
He had a positive response to the name Swift Current 57’s when he heard it for the first time and it made sense for him to keep a link between the team’s past and future.
“I think the committee did their homework and the board’s a hundred per cent behind them,” he said. “So I think it’s going to work out. It’ll be fine.”
Along with the former name the familiar red and blue colours of the team have been replaced with a new green and orange colour scheme. According to Martinez the change in team colours was considered to be part of a complete rebranding.
“The thinking was that if we kept the same colours, then it wasn’t a true rebranding, it was simply a renaming,” he said. “We wanted a new start. We wanted to hit the reset button. We wanted to start things over from a marketing standpoint, from a branding standpoint, and see where we were going to go.”
The colours were chosen with purpose. Green has a strong association with the province and it was therefore considered to be a good fit with the team.
“Anytime somebody in Saskatchewan chooses green you’re not going to lose, right?” he laughed. “So there was a tie-in there. The whole idea of newness, re-invigoration that goes along with green, and then the orange was just an opportunity for us to be unique. Those two colours are a unique combination. They are not colours that anybody else in the WMBL has. They’re not colours that are common, and so it gives us a distinct leg up already in terms of just looking at it.”
The new team colours along with the distinctive design of the Swift Current 57’s name will provide the team with new opportunities to create merchandise as part of a new brand within the WMBL.
“What we’re finding is that we were getting closed in a lot in terms of our previous colours because red and blue became the predominant colour within the league and everybody was gravitating towards that,” he said. “So as we were trying to figure out ways for concession sales and memorabilia, we thought well OK, let’s be brave. Let’s take a chance and let’s be creative.”
He is confident the fans will respond in a positive way to the rebranding of the team and that they will buy merchandise in the new colours.
“We sure hope so and we’re going to give it our best effort and it won’t be from a lack of trying,” he said. “We’re going to put together a strong marketing plan and really try and go out and get the brand out in the community in a real strong fashion, and with some good luck and some good planning hopefully that’s the end result.”
In addition to the team’s rebranding there will be other initiatives to attract more people to baseball games at Mitchell Field this summer. Mutlow noted the team’s success on the field during the 2016 season did not result in an increase in game attendance.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of new ideas we’re working on,” he said. “We’re trying to do some improvements to the field, we’re looking to be a little more fan friendly, maybe some new concessions. ... I think when people come to the park this year they’re going to be pleasantly surprised. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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