Or at least Ernie would like to hope so. In a press conference at the downtown Akron Civic Theater, team owner Ken Babby announced the name change of Akron's minor league baseball team. Known as the Akron Aeros since 1997, due to Ohio's association with aerospace, the RubberDucks have officially decided to rebrand their team in hopes of encouraging further team and city development.
Babby, who worked for the Washington Post for 13 years before buying the Cleveland Indians's minor league affiliate, promised to reinvent the franchise to make it both more fun and family friendly. Thus, his choice of the RubberDucks as the new mascot.
In a 2009 contest, fans voted for their choice as to the Akron team's nickname. RubberDucks was a choice then, as was the Gum Dippers, the Tire Jacks, and the Vulcans. However, the Aeros eventually won out with 67% of the vote.
While one can only guess why Babby chose to go with the "ducks" moniker, the "Rubber" part of the name is very apt to the city of Akron. At the beginning of the 20th century, Akron was home to the top 4 rubber companies in the world; Today, Akron is still home to the Goodyear headquarters and the Bridgestone-Firestone technical center, giving the city the nickname as "The Rubber Capital of the World."
The new logo for the Akron RubberDucks is as fierce as a rubber-duck can be, with tire-treads forming part of the duck's head and flames rolling off the top. The team has also composed two other logos, one being a webbed-duck's-foot circled by tire-tread, and the other being a tire-tread letter "A".
Babby believes that the new logo "... accomplishes a lot of things. Right off the bat, it represents the grit and fierceness of this blue-collar market. But it also represents the brand of entertainment that we're trying to create: a place where you can come in, have fun and forget life's problems."
Since taking over the team in 2012, Babby has helped increase the attendance at the Akron ballpark to 295,000, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. This is perhaps in large part due to a reinvented concessions area, fireworks shows, and a new, $1.65 million video scoreboard. So while the name-change may seem a bit ridiculous, perhaps Babby actually knows what he is doing.
Akron is not the first city to choose a ridiculous nickname for its franchise. Appreciate the following list of strange minor league baseball team names: Albuquerque Isotopes, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, El Paso Chihuahuas, Montgomery Biscuits, Modesto Nuts, Cedar Rapid Kernels, Lansing Lugnuts, Savannah Sand Gnats, Jamestown Jammers, Asheville Tourists, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Everett AquaSox, and the Reading Fightin' Phils.
Honestly, the only way Akron can really mess this up is by choosing someone other than Ernie to be their mascot. Please, Sesame Street - let Akron borrow the rights to the image of Ernie. America needs this; don't let Akron down.
Image via Twitter