Once the Jazz, New Orleans team to become Pelicans?

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As recently as spring, New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson made it clear he hoped his franchise could secure the team name that left with the franchise when it moved to Salt Lake City in 1979.

"We need to find a name like (Jazz)," Benson told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in April. "Whether we can get that or let us use that, you've got to know we're working on it. We'd like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we're not letting up on it, either. Because we've got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we're going to be on them daily to do something."

Well, the Jazz have never been receptive to the idea of returning the name to the Crescent City, so the soon-to-be former Hornets appear to have moved on.

Yahoo!'s Marc J. Spears reports the Hornets are expected to be renamed the Pelicans, after the state bird and the star of Louisiana's nickname: The Pelican State. Spears reports the Pelicans could take the court as early as next season.

The Hornets planned to change their nickname since Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, purchased the team on April 14. Benson also owns the rights to the nickname Pelicans.

The Hornets also considered the nicknames Krewe (groups of costumed paraders in the annual Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans) and Brass.

Louisiana is the Pelican State. The brown pelican is the state bird and appears on the state flag and seal, and official state painting. Moreover, the Pelicans played minor league baseball in New Orleans in all but nine seasons from 1887-1959 and in 1977.

Gayle Benson, Benson's wife, told Fox Sports New Orleans recently her preference for new team colors was navy blue, red and gold.

For those unsure, this is a photo of an actual pelican, as opposed to this one of a future Pelican.

— Bill Oram