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Lightning exploring new logo, look

Officials think a change may increase the sale of team merchandise.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


This is not a fashion emergency.

Lightning president Ron Campbell wanted to make that clear. But it also is clear Tampa Bay will likely have a new logo and new uniforms for the 2001-02 season.

Campbell said Thursday the team has notified the NHL it is exploring options for a new look.

It has hired the New York firm of SME Power Branding, which designed the Rangers' Statue of Liberty logo, to provide artistic expertise.

"I would not anticipate it being drastic at all," Campbell said of possible changes. "But you want something with a little more variation, something that people will gravitate to, something they will have pride in."

And something, Campbell added, that will help boost the sale of merchandise.

Ed O'Hara, SME's chief creative officer, said he will take 40 to 50 designs to the NHL in September. Campbell said if the Lightning is unhappy with its options, it will keep the design that has represented the team since its first season in 1992-93.

"We're not looking to change just for the sake of change," Campbell said.

Campbell said the current logo design is difficult to work with when it comes to decorating T-shirts and caps because of the words "Tampa Bay Lightning," which surround the large lightning bolt.

"The logo marks don't stand out by themselves," Campbell said.

Campbell said new logo designs likely would be drawn without words, though they could be used on secondary logos.

As for the uniforms, Campbell said the blue and black color scheme likely would remain, though the design would be updated. O'Hara agreed the colors are "strong," but stressed the creative process has just begun.

"We haven't put pen to paper," he said. "We're in the information gathering mode. We want to assess whether a change is necessary."

The Lightning is not undertaking this process lightly. When Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the team, held a town hall meeting before last season, fans said they liked the logo.

Campbell remembers and said that is one of the reasons the team will organize focus groups to comment on logo and uniform options.

"I'm sure there were a lot of people who loved the Bucs' old uniforms," Campbell said. "But they made the change and they started winning. It's tough to go back."

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