NEW ORLEANS (USA Today) -- The New Orleans Hornets have called a press conference for 3 p.m. Thursday when the team is expected to announce an official name change, which will take place for the 2013-14 season.
It was reported in December the team would changeits name to Pelicans, which had been the former name of the city's minor league baseball team from 1887 to 1959 and 1977, and Hornets owner Tom Benson owns the rights to that name. The Brown Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana.
When the team moved from Charlotte in 2002, the name came with then-owner George Shinn. New owner Benson -- who also owns the NFL's Saints -- is a New Orleans native and said when he bought the team in April he wanted the name to be more reflective of the city and area.
Right after the announcement was made, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the name of the team is up to the team.
"If it works for them, it works for me," Stern said. "I don't have any objections to anything that the Hornets want to do name-wise because I'm sure it'll be sensible. ... I'm sure whatever it is, it'll be good. If (Pelicans) is what it is, that's fine. ... I think everything sounds good. I think Lakers, have you seen any lakes in Los Angeles? There's the same amount of lakes in L.A. as there is jazz in Utah, or grizzlies in Memphis. I'm out of that business. Whatever works for a team works for me."
The team petitioned for five names: Pelicans, Mosquitos, Swamp Dogs, Bullsharks and Rougarou, but it appears Pelicans is the one Benson prefers.
The colors could be changed as well to blue, gold and red.