Connecticut Tigers to unveil new name, logo, merchandise Thursday

Norwich — The Connecticut Tigers will unveil a new team name, logo and identity in a ceremony at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at the Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School. 

The event will be open to the public with doors opening at 3:45 p.m. The new name will have Norwich in the title and was selected from five finalists announced in October and voted on by fans: Narwhals, Sea Unicorns, Mill Mules, Salty Dogs or Golden Roses.

“We’re extremely excited to unveil our new identity that will represent the history of Norwich and Southeastern Connecticut, while also staying true to the family fun and excitement of Minor League Baseball,” Connecticut Tigers General Manager Dave Schermerhorn said in a press release Monday. “The support from our fans, sponsors and the City of Norwich has been tremendous over the last 10 seasons and we’re looking forward to strengthening those bonds with a new hometown identity that will be uniquely ours.”

New team merchandise will be available at Thursday’s event and on the new team website following the program. In addition, extended hours for the team store at Dodd Stadium will allow fans the opportunity to shop in person beginning Friday.

Team and city officials hope the new name and logo — selected after a team naming contest that yielded 700 submissions — will last for 10 years. The name contest was announced after city and Tigers officials signed a new 10-year lease that starts with the 2020 baseball season at the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium.

But as the name contest was in full swing, a proposal also surfaced by Major League Baseball to overhaul the minor league system by eliminating 42 teams, including the Connecticut Tigers and the New York-Penn League in which the Tigers play. The move also would cut the amateur baseball draft from 40 to 20 rounds, leaving hundreds of undrafted players to try to join proposed low-level independent try-out teams.

The controversial plan, which would start after the 2020 season, faces strong opposition from Minor League Baseball, Congress and the cities and towns that would lose their teams. In November, 106 congressmen representing districts affected by the proposed contraction, signed a letter opposing the move that was sent to Major League Baseball and all its teams.

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom plans to contact his 41 counterparts to try to form a united municipal front. Nystrom argued that Major League Baseball approved the new 10-year lease between the city and the Tigers that led the city to begin $800,000 in upgrades to Dodd Stadium, including new LED lights to meet Major League Baseball standards.

As the lease terms were reached in April, and four months before the final lease was signed, the Connecticut Tigers asked for fan suggestions for a new team name, receiving over 700 entries.

c.bessette@theday.com

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