HarbourCats to claw their way into Victoria sports scene

The city’s newest sports franchise looks to land on its feet in 2013 as the Victoria HarbourCats.

The Victoria HarbourCats will purr at Royal Athletic Park beginning in June

Victoria’s newest sports franchise looks to land on its feet in 2013 as the HarbourCats.

The name and logo of the amateur status West Coast League baseball team, which uses top NCAA and collegiate level players during a short summer schedule, was introduced on Friday (Oct. 12), to much anticipation since the club was officially announced in June.

“We feel the name fits the geography of the region, a nod to the importance and beauty of Victoria’s Inner Harbour and, with other team names in the West Coast League,” said general manager Holly Jones.

The colour scheme is dark navy blue text with the cat and its fangs in “deep aqua blue,” A matching V logo, for Victoria, will be featured as the team’s secondary graphic.

So where does HarbourCats stack up with Victoria’s nicknames of old? It doesn’t.

Lacrosse’s Shamrocks and hockey’s Cougars, currently in use, date back to the 1950s and prior. New club names such as hockey’s Victoria Royals (2011) and Grizzlies (2006), and soccer’s Victoria Highlanders (2008), are also cut from the traditional mold.

HarbourCats stands apart, using a modern trend known as CamelCase, says Toronto-based design analyst Chris Creamer.

“The popular term for this type of font (HarbourCats) is CamelCase, as the word mimics the humps on a camel’s back,” says the self-made sports logo expert and proprietor of Sportslogos.net. It was Creamer who was the first to discover and post the Royals WHL logo on his website in 2011, days before it was officially released.

Creamer pointed out that picking a team name with CamelCase is saying to the public “this is a minor league team with minor league branding and we’re not going to bother trying to hide it.”

However, as Jones has pointed out, the HarbourCats are the WCL’s third team with such a name, joining the Wenatchee AppleSox and Kitsap BlueJackets. There are a dozen more minor league teams from across North America to use the CamelCase style in their name in the past three years.

But nobody is mistaking Royal Athletic Park, the HarbourCats’ home, as a big league venue.

“We wanted a team name and logo that accomplished a number of things,” said owner John McLean. “It needed to be bold and edgy, while looking sharp on uniforms, merchandise, the web, advertising and social media.”

HarbourCats was one of the over 600 submissions received by the team from the name-the-team contest, in which the initial 250 name suggestions, plus another five randomly drawn names, were awarded a pair of tickets to a 2013 home game.

The name of the submitter has not been revealed as it was not a grand prize, winner takes all contest.

“We felt this was the most appropriate submission, and one that worked well on all fronts,” said Jones.

The WCL is a wood bat summer league populated with collegiate level players from across North America. Medford, Ore. (yet to be named) also joins the WCL, which expands to 11 teams for 2013. The inaugural HarbourCats season begins the first week of June 2013 and runs through mid-August, with 27 home games at RAP and 27 away games. Next is the design of the team uniforms, hats and the team mascot.

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