Hartford Yard Goats, A Name That ‘Got People’s Goat’ – At First
Posted on July 27, 2015
Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
It appears to have been part of the plan – a masterful marketing strategy. When the “Hartford Yard Goats”, the name of Hartford, Connecticut’s new Double A minor league baseball team, was announced in March of this year it was met with less than enthusiasm by the general public. One might say, it got people’s goat.
“Hartford fans were crestfallen. While the city was preparing to welcome a professional baseball team, the team owners were orchestrating a circus,” Kristen Hussey wrote in a piece in the New York Times.
Fans of the Eastern League Rock Cats, the team set to be transplanted the 14 minute drive from New Britain to the capital city and recast as the Yard Goats, were quoted in area newspapers disparaging the moniker. Local editorials spouted skepticism.
Then, a change began to take place. In what can only be described as a brilliant move, the Yard Goats logo was unveiled sporting the colors – blue and green – of Hartford’s gone but still missed former National Hockey League team, the Hartford Whalers. Local WFSB television anchor Dennis House tweeted his approval of the Yard Goats “homage” to the Whalers. Folks started to come around. Next, former professional baseball standout Cal Ripken, Jr. came to town to help out with his youth baseball camps. Interviewed on the topic by sportscasters, Ripken’s take on the Yard Goats name was positive, saying minor league team names are meant to be fun with family attraction and entertainment value. Ripken was even shown wearing a team hat in a Yard Goats tweet.
Somewhere along the way, the Yard Goats merchandise took off and is said to be selling like hot cakes. According to Hussey, initial resistance to the name was part of the plan by the San Diego-based sports marketing firm, Brandose. Fans had been asked to suggest a team name. Some 6,000 entries were reportedly received. Why Yard Goats? A railroad term for locomotives that switch cars from track to track, it is supposed to be a ‘tip of the hat’ to the Hartford-New Haven railroad line, noted Hussey. Also figured in to the choice is the appeal of animals to children. If what some might label a corny name was intentionally meant to spark buzz and excitement – mission accomplished. The name of Hartford’s new farm team for the Colorado Rockies seems to be on everyone’s lips.
One would speculate the popularity of Yard Goats merchandise bodes well for the future of the team, which is slated to take the field in April, 2016 in the new Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Currently under construction at the intersection of Main and Trumbull, the ballpark is part of Downtown North, a development of a “blighted” area of Hartford. Also planned are a brewery and grocery store, according to FOXCT.
Sandwiched between a magnet school and Capital Community College, which is housed in the former iconic G.Fox & Co. building, the future ballpark is easy to find immediately off I-84. Not everyone was in favor of the city’s decision to build the stadium. Opposition came from a number of residents who showed up on a regular basis at city council meetings to say they wanted the money invested in other things, such as education. Nonetheless, city leaders prevailed. The $54 million price tag will be paid over a twenty-six year period at $2.4 million a year to Centerplan Construction, which is contracted to build the stadium as part of a $350 million redevelopment effort in the North End, FOXCT further reported. Once completed, the stadium will be available to host other events.
“We are moving development northward and we are looking to see revitalization in every neighborhood, every corridor, every area of this city,” Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden has been quoted as stating.
Massachusetts real estate investor and team owner Josh Solomon, the NYT reports, was convinced to move the team to Hartford and agree to stay for the next 25 years because of the city’s commitment to build the ballpark. It is being touted as a “state-of- the art” facility.
In the meantime, what may well be another facet of the marketing plan has been released – the Yard Goats theme song. A recent headline in USA TODAY SPORTS reads, “‘Yard Goats Anthem’ Will Have You Partying Hard in Hartford Forever'”. And, as any Hartford Whalers fan has already noticed, listen closely to the Yard Goats tune and hear – “dat, dat, dat, da da, da, dat. Dat, dat, dat, da, da, da, dat,” a bit of rhythm from the the Whalers’ old “Brass Bonanza” team tune. ” Brilliant.
Listen here to the Hartford Yard Goats new theme song.
*(Note: From Dictionary.com -The expression “get your goat” which means to annoy or anger, originated in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. To calm high strung horses, the night before a race a goat was placed in the stall. However, “unscrupulous” opponents would often steal the goat in a bid to upset the horse and cause it to lose the race.)