MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula is not known for moose, but there will be a lot more “PaddleHeads” in the Montana city when the next baseball season opens.
The Missoula Osprey announced plans Monday to change its name to PaddleHeads with an updated logo and merchandise displaying the moose nickname, The Missoulian reported.
The team decided 11 months ago to change its nickname as part of a rebranding to revive falling attendance. The Rookie Advanced affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks plays in the Pioneer League from June to September.
The organization received nearly 500 name suggestions submitted online, and team officials were on a conference call with a consultant in March discussing the six finalists, including PaddleHeads, said Matt Ellis, team executive vice president.
“I said, ‘I’ve got one problem: I don’t equate a moose to the heart of Missoula.’ Just then our phones lit up with an alert,” Ellis said. “There was a moose in downtown Missoula, a block from our office.”
The Missoula Police Department sent an automated call to residents warning them not to approach a cow moose and calf roaming through the city.
“At that point, the PaddleHeads was born,” Ellis said.
The PaddleHeads logo will be on hats and shirts, and a moose mascot will roam Ogren-Allegiance Park during games. The rebranding also includes changing the primary team color to hunter green, officials said.
The change has not been completely embraced. Some fans writing on the team’s website Monday expressed a love of the 25-year-old Osprey name, while others thought the team should return to one of its other previous nicknames, the Timberjacks or the Highlanders.
The hardest part was finding an original idea, Ellis said.
“It involves trademark searches and URLs and whether you can get a website with that name,” he said. “It’s really a tough process. Some names that we liked got knocked out because we couldn’t check all the boxes.”
The team believes the PaddleHeads will eventually become a hit with fans.
“We think it’s a grand slam,” Ellis said.