EL PASO, Texas - El Paso's Triple-A baseball team finally has a name.
The Chihuahuas take their place in El Paso baseball history alongside previous affiliated teams the Diablos and Sun Kings, among others.
The team's name and logo were announced before an audience of youth baseball players and the media Tuesday afternoon in the The Plaza Theatre main auditorium.
Less than half an hour after the announcement, the Albuquerque Isotopes welcomed their new rivals.
"A big welcome from the Isotopes to the newest team to the PCL: the @epchihuahuas ...can't wait for the first Chihuahua vs. #Topes matchup!!" the Isotopes tweet read.
The Chihuahuas Twitter account, which was created several weeks ago, had a couple of followers Tuesday afternoon. Within 30 minutes of the announcement it had just over 150 followers.
MountainStar Sports Group, which owns the team, said the list of 5,600 name suggestions was narrowed based on creativity, marketability, fun, relevance to El Paso's unique character and the ability to trademark the name.
The team had a public voting contest as part of the process to name the team, as well. The finalists were Aardvarks, Desert Gators, Chihuahuas, Sun Dogs, and Buckaroos.
El Paso general manager Brad Taylor said Chihuahuas was chosen as the team name because they "represent fun and are fiercely loyal."
"Through the entire (branding) process, our focus was on fun and on finding something that could appeal to kids," Taylor said. "You have to believe in the brand, and stand by it, because the brand isn't just something that people hear -- it's something they see."
"El Pasoans played a significant role in identifying our new team name -- they attended focus groups, suggested several hundred different names, and voted in record numbers for all the names," said Alan Ledford, Chihuahuas president.
Shae Vierra, who submitted the Chihuahuas name, was chosen at random as the "Name the Team" contest winner, choosing the Chihuahuas for its reference to the popular dog and the Chihuahuan Desert. As the winner, Vierra will collect two season tickets, a personalized jersey and the opportunity to throw out one of the ceremonial first pitches on Opening Night.
Paul Foster, co-owner of the team, told ABC-7 it took a little bit of time for the Chihuahuas name to grow on him.
"The company we hired to do the branding, they do this all over the country. That's what they do," Foster said. "They are very good and they did a lot of research and put a lot of effort into it and when they rolled it out to us I kind of went, 'whoa, I don't know.' But it didn't take me very long at all to really fall in love with it."
Foster's wife, Alejandra De La Vega, said she liked the name Chihuahuas because it brings the region together. De La Vega was born in El Paso but spent much of her childhood in Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
"Look at the name and logos through the eyes of a child and you can't help but smile," Ledford said. "That's what we're all about."
The team colors are desert red, black, and Chihuahua tan.
Brandiose, a design firm in San Diego, created the Chihuahuas brand. Partners Jason Klein and Casey White have dreamed up over fifty team names and graphics, including brands for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, and America's oldest baseball club, the Cincinnati Reds.
"The development process began when Klein and White met in El Paso with fans, team staff, and community members to learn about the stories, history, and personality of the region. Brandiose developed the logos and team uniforms, and is developing elements of the fan experience including the Chihuahuas' forthcoming mascot." according to a post by the team on the Chihuahuas' official website.
"The Chihuahuas brand embodies El Paso's values of independence, community pride, and a fighting spirit," said White. "Fans will love seeing El Paso's Chihuahuas and the downtown ballpark will offer a world-class fan experience that will come to life next spring."
Barring any unforseen ballpark construction delays the team will play its first home game on April 11, 2014 in Downtown El Paso.
Reaction has been pretty negative toward the Chihuahuas name on social media, particularly on Twitter.
ElPasoChihuahuas is by far the stupidest name they could have come up with. Wow..."
Brianna tweeted, "Go home El Paso, you're drunk????? ElPasoChihuahu
asFor more Twitter reaction, go to http://bit.ly/1a67ZPA where a petition has been started to change the team's nam
e.Chihuahuas Home Schedu
leMountainStar Sports Group officially released the team's home schedule in mid-Augus
t.The home schedule includes 72 home games of a 144-game schedule that will run through Sept. 1, the final game of the regular seaso
n.The team opens its 2014 Pacific Coast League (PCL) campaign on April 3 with eight straight road games before returning to host Reno in a four-game serie
s.April will have just seven home games, while May will have 18. There will be 16 home games each in June and August and 14 in Jul
y.The team will play in El Paso on four holidays, including Mother's Day (May 11), Father's Day (June 15), the three games leading up to the Fourth of July (July 1-3) and Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-Sept. 1
).El Paso Triple-A, a member of the Pacific Southern Division, is slated to play seven of the PCL teams twice at home (Albuquerque, Fresno, Las Vegas, Reno, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Tacoma), each in four-game stints. The club also faces off with Nashville (Aug. 12-15), New Orleans (June 9-12) and Memphis (Aug. 16-19
).The PCL realigned its conference divisions for the 2014 season with Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City joining El Paso in the Pacific Southern division. Fresno, Reno, Sacramento and Tacoma will make up the Pacific Northern. Colorado Springs, Iowa, Oklahoma City and Omaha will be members of the American Northern and the American Southern will have Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans and Round Rock as its member
s.The team takes a break July 14-16 for the Triple-A All-Star game between the PCL and International Leagues to be held in Durham, N.
tsAs construction for El Paso's new ballpark continues Downtown, the team's owners have announced how seats will be allocated and how much the tickets will cos
t.Tickets range from $504 for one season in the upper reserved zone to a little more than $2,300 per year on a three-year-deal with seats on the club leve
l.Five year deals also are available. Single game ticket prices have not been release
d.More information: www.elpasotriplea.c