Lakewood BlueClaws changes their name and it’s a huge improvement (Opinion)
My family and I have enjoyed many great family day at Lakewood BlueClaws stadium. It’s a beautiful minor-league baseball stadium and a fantastic place to spend the day. I was always a little perturbed by the name “Lakewood” BlueClaws. Even though the stadium is physically IN Lakewood. I felt like it made them seem so much smaller than they really are and that people wouldn’t get excited about a baseball team simply based on geography.
Now, I have nothing against Lakewood as a town, it just doesn’t seem to represent baseball, in my mind. Or anything exciting, for that matter. And I think that’s a common theme with a lot of minor league baseball teams. They are named after places that are not sexy. But some teams understand the marketing sway that a better name holds. For instance, what used to be the San Bernardino spirits in California is now the Inland 66’ers. Why? Because in land is a huge region adjacent to Los Angeles.
San Bernardino is a bustling but boring suburb. And the 66’ers wanted to attract an audience from all over Southern California, not just from the town of San Bernardino. And, their name is an homage to the legendary Route 66 that people would historically use to cross the country to get to California, the land of dreams. Davenport, Iowa’s minor-league team did the same thing. They called themselves Quad Cities River Bandits instead of Davenport River Bandits because it’s a better marketing move. And, let’s face it, “Quad Cities” sounds hotter than “Davenport.”
The Tennessee Smokies chose to name themselves after the state rather than after the small city, Kodak, that they play in. I’d much rather buy a ticket to go see the Tennessee Smokies in action than the Kodak Smokies. Don’t get me wrong. If a team is based in a town that is recognizable by everyone, it’s a different story. For instance, the Lexington Legends, the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Chatanooga Lookouts: those sound like you’re in for a night of great professional baseball!
Plus, BlueClaws are an iconic symbol of the Jersey shore. Specifically, they’re a beach thing. And there is no beach in Lakewood! It made no sense! While the BlueClaws and Lakewood Township continue to enjoy a great relationship, I think the name change was great for marketing.
Most people in North and South Jersey don’t even know what Lakewood is. I like it because it’s the home of my kids and grandkids, but that doesn’t sell baseball tickets, no matter how lovely the stadium. Like a lot of generic ocean county towns, not everyone is enamored with Lakewood. But EVERYONE is enamored with the Jersey shore. Go Jersey Shore BlueClaws!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.