The Frisco RoughRiders unveiled their new identity Thursday, the highlight of a gala event held at a local movie theater. In doing so, the team has ushered in a bold new era that, nonetheless, is not without president.
Our nation's 26th president, to be precise: Theodore Roosevelt. The RoughRiders' new primary logo, dubbed "Swinging Teddy," features a slouch hat and pince-nez glasses-bedecked Roosevelt wielding a baseball bat. An alternate logo, which will be worn as a batting practice cap, shows Roosevelt's beaming visage. This mark goes by the name of "Smiling Teddy."
This new look is rooted in history, as the RoughRiders, Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, seek to strengthen their connection to the people and events that originally inspired the team's name. In 1898, some three years prior to assuming the highest office in the land, Roosevelt formed the famed 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry Unit. This regiment, more commonly known as the Rough Riders, fought in the Spanish-American War. Many of its members were recruited from the Texas region that includes Frisco.
RoughRiders general manager Jason Dambach said that the impetus behind the new look, designed by San Diego-based Brandiose, was "to tell the story behind the brand."
"We think that everything came together really well," said Dambach. "It's warm and inviting on one hand, but it also has a historical tie-in. If you look at the elements of the most successful logos and identities in Minor League Baseball, they all hit you from a lot of different angles. ... We're telling the story behind the brand, like with the red, white and blue color scheme. It's American, yet scorched by the Texas sun."
Dambach also noted that an "early 20th-century font will be prominent throughout the brand" and that the iconic Texas lone star dots the "i" in both Frisco and RoughRiders. The new logos are part of a much larger franchise overhaul, undertaken by new team owner Chuck Greenberg as he enters his first season at the helm. Greenberg, former managing partner and CEO of the Texas Rangers, also owns the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and State College Spikes. He, along with co-managing partner Scott Sonju, a veteran RoughRiders executive, acquired the team from Mandalay Sports Entertainment in August. Mandalay had owned the franchise since its 2003 inception.
Dambach is familiar with Greenberg's operating philosophy, since, prior to joining the RoughRiders in January, he spent six seasons as general manager of the Spikes.
"We're going into a franchise that's been wildly successful over its first 12 years," said Dambach. "Nothing is broken, it's a great fan base in a great market and we have an awesome staff. Yet there are so many untapped opportunities on the marketing and promotion side as well as the game entertainment side. There's a lot that this fan base hasn't been exposed to."
In addition to unveiling the new identity, the RoughRiders announced a series of improvements to their home of Dr. Pepper Ballpark. This includes a new high-definition, 2700-square foot videoboard which, combined with new outfield wall ribbon-board signage, gives the team what Dambach referred to as "the largest digital footprint in Minor League Baseball." Other improvements for the 2015 season include a new sound system, team store, open-air sports bar and a State Fair of Texas-inspired concourse amusement area that includes food trucks, carnival games and a playground.
Dambach said that the new ballpark experience will also include "deeper layers to the Roosevelt theme."
"We're all-in on the 26th president of the United States. We're going to explore every single avenue we can and have a lot of fun with this new brand. That what's Minor League Baseball is all about and we're going to push the limits on that, no doubt."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.