The “Hornets” name may soon be available again for Charlotte’s NBA basketball franchise. The Bobcats becoming the Hornets is not as straightforward as many in this city think it is. First, as the UPoR notes, the Bobcats name is actually pretty popular, making the benefit of going away from “Bobcats” not that big:

Bobcats management can’t say much until New Orleans does something officially. But the team is planning for the possibility of a name change, which would cost at least $3 million, team president Fred Whitfield told the Observer on Wednesday.

The team has prepared, though. A marketing study of Charlotte the team commissioned during the summer of 2010, couldn’t ask specific questions about the Hornets, but did poll Charlotteans on the name “Bobcats.”

The results might surprise you.

According to chief sales and marketing officer Pete Guelli, more than 60 percent of those polled liked the name Bobcats; about 20 percent advocated a name change.

Guelli said negative reaction to the color scheme, which was predominantly orange, caused the team to change the colors as part of last summer’s rebranding.

The original Hornets moved away in 2002 and their peak of popularity was several years before that, so the further out we get from that, the less the benefit will be and the more people that weren’t here then will simply ask “why?” while wondering what the fuss is all about. And let’s not forget the ultimate deadline — the team must be a success here in Charlotte when the terms of the arena lease make relocation a financially viable option. That’s still a few years out, but there’s some lead time to a relocation too.

So any Bobcats renaming, if it happens, has to occur sooner rather than later — because if the team is still struggling four or five years from now, the discussion becomes whether the team goes someplace else. And once you get to that point, renaming the team here is pointless. Conversely, if the team suddenly becomes successful as the Bobcats, then there’s no need to rename it.

The wildcard here is how long a renaming process would take, especially whether the NBA would insist upon a few year break between the New Orleans and Charlotte teams being the Hornets so as to reduce fan confusion.

So yes, bring on the Charlotte Hornets maybe.