Speculation had centered that the team was ready to go in the direction of a new name. Not to worry: the name "Hawks" isn't going anywhere.
The Cubs' Class-A, short-season affiliate, which traditionally houses the organization's top draft picks each season from June through early September, instead found their new identity in the form of a completely overhauled club logo.
The team's uniforms will be updated next season to identify with the new look, which represents the city of Boise and its many traditions, Hawks General Manager Todd Rahr said.
The logo consists of four different colors, which Rahr says all represent the Treasure Valley region more so than the Hawks' affiliation with the Cubs.
"It's not that we don't love the Cubs at all," said Rahr, who was recently named Northwest League Executive of the Year. "We love the association with the Cubs, but we really feel that the logo for a minor league team is a localized deal. That's why we went in this direction."
Unlike the Hawks' former logo (a standard baseball with blue trim and a nostalgic script of the letter B), their new identity will primarily consist of the color green, Rahr said. He describes the color as a "City-of-Trees green."
"Boise is the City of Trees," notes Rahr. "When you're talking about the closest color match of a major league team, it would be like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' green."
The other colors that will make up the Hawks' new look are what Rahr termed "downtown red, sunshine orange, and corn silk yellow."
Rahr said the new shade of red most identifies with that of the Houston Astros' look, while the orange is closely matched to the University of Tennessee Volunteers' primary color.
Each color has a symbolic meaning.
"You'll notice the city has kind of a purple and brick color," Rahr said of Idaho's capitol city, whose population was listed at over 193,000 in the most recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2005. "It's kind of a new, old-looking city. That red really ties that part of the market into the logo. With the orange, we get 220-plus days of sunshine out here in Boise."
The fourth color, the "corn silk" one, ties into the popular agricultural facet of the Boise area.
Then there's the actual Hawk itself, what the team now calls "the B bird."
"The top of the wings make it look like the letter B," Rahr describes. "It's a soaring bird that's holding the bat. Then we have a couple of other secondary logos, such as a talon that is around the ball. We've also got a nest logo."
The Hawks' new identity was unveiled at a press conference in Boise Wednesday. Rahr acknowledged that the team had considered changing its name from the Hawks, but ultimately that never came to fruition.
As part of their agreement with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks franchise, the Boise Hawks must specifically incorporate the word "baseball" into their logo.
Rahr said the NBA's Hawks, commonly one of the weaker franchises in the sport, put forth no pressure on the Boise club to change its name.
"As far as our logo goes, as long as it's associated with baseball, we're fine," he said. "Really, it comes down more to merchandising than anything else. We can't just print a t-shirt that only says ‘Hawks' across the front."
Rahr hopes the new face of his team, which has been a member of the Northwest League since 1975 and has six league championships to boast, will be something their parent club will be proud of.
"It's all by design," Rahr said. "The logo isn't really out there like the Lansing Lugnuts or Montgomery Biscuits. It's what we call a new, old-retro look. You know the old adage, ‘Whatever's old is new again.' When you go around the Boise market and really look at the signs and the fonts that are used out there, there's really the feeling of the old logos coming back."
The Cubs had no quarrels with the Hawks' new look, Rahr said.
"One of the things that (Cubs Farm Director) Oneri Fleita let me know a year ago was that the entire organization is going with blue cleats, like the big league club," Rahr said. "That was always in the back of my mind. ‘Building this logo, will blue cleats go with it?' At the same time, I didn't want blue cleats to make sure that that was where we went."
The Hawks actually still plan to provide their players with traditional black cleats. The team is looking for a manufacturer that will afford them that luxury between now and the time their season starts up again in June.
"If we have to wear blue cleats, we will," Rahr says. "That was really the only consideration we took into this thing. We wanted something that was classy, something the Cubs could be proud to say, ‘That's our product.' Not something so outrageous that their guys looked like a bunch of clowns."
"We really got psychological about the whole thing, but when you're talking about building a new logo, a new brand, and possibly a new name, we didn't want to leave any stone unturned," he said.