MADISON, Ala. - The newly-named Rocket City Trash Pandas are preparing for a 2020 season at the soon-to-be-built stadium in Town Madison.
Meanwhile, the ball club is developing logos and getting ready to start selling merchandise.
"We just finalized the logos today and sent them back to the artists. We've probably gone 6 or 7 rounds with the logos," BallCorps Managing Partner, Ralph Nelson, said Monday. "Now, we know what they are going to look like."
While there are still a few weeks before those logos will be revealed on October 27, lots have been said about where the club will be selling the merchandise to Tennessee Valley residents.
Trash Panda Merchandise Stores
BallCorps announced last week that it will open a merchandise store next to the Apple Store at Bridge Street in Huntsville on November 12. That is where, starting on November 17, it will start taking season ticket deposits.
We asked Nelson about this.
"We actually went to the City of Madison and asked where the best place to put it will be. And they told us Bridge Street is where there will be a lot of traffic around Christmas time. So we went ahead and signed a lease there," he reasoned. "Our goal is to reach as many people as possible."
He told us Monday afternoon that the ballclub was "looking into the possibility of" adding other shops in Madison, Decatur, and Athens to try to reach the greater region.
Monday, he told the Madison City Council that a store was a definite in Madison.
"We will, in fact, open a second store which will be really, our headquarter store, in Madison," he said, "before Christmas. Bridge Street will become a satellite store. And we are looking now into opening a store in Decatur and Athens as well. We still have quite a bit going on that. But we will not just have the store in Bridge Street, we will have stores including our flagship store which will be in Madison."
Nelson presented more numbers to the Madison City Council on Monday.
It included just how many people voted to identify the team with another place, besides Madison.
Nelson said that more than 60% of voters from Madison did not vote for "Madison" to be in the name.
"All in all, when we looked at all the Madison voters, 60.66 voted for either Rocket City or North Alabama," said Nelson. "So when we came to you and asked you if you would consider what was best for the company and what was best for the business, you were kind enough to allow us to use a name other than Madison."
Nelson detailed all the press and attention the Rocket City Trash Pandas have gotten since the announcement last week. He said he is pleased with the coverage.
"I can tell you that if our team was the, I don't know, the Rockets, I don't think we'd be getting this kind of attention," he commented.
Several Madison residents spoke up at Monday's meeting on issues related to BallCorps and the baseball team.
One woman, Bebe Oetjen, said she is still displeased with the term "Trash Pandas."
"I just can't believe you would name something Trash, related to Madison," she said. "It's not the right thing to do. I think it's an awful name. I will not be there. I grew up going to baseball games with my father. I like baseball. But I will not go to a game. I will not buy a ticket that says Trash on it."
Another man, Greg Rivera, urged the council to be careful.
"This is too important, and it's too big a risk to this community, to not take every moment in this seriously," he said.
He told the council he worries about copyright infringement due to the popular Rocket the Raccoon, and how using that character's image in relation to the team concerns him. Some have been sharing photos with his likeness online.
Rivera also asked for more airtight contracts between the city and BallCorps. He also added that he hopes the Madison merchandise store comes to pass and can be contractually required.
"I know it's an open wound with a lot of people in this town if the team is going to be named Rocket City," he explained. "They're just pouring salt in the wound if residents have to go to Huntsville to pay Huntsville taxes to buy products."
Multiple citizens have reached out to WHNT News 19 to ask about domain registration for the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Many have questioned the authenticity of the Name the Team Contest if the domain was bought back in July.
We also brought that question to Nelson.
"We bought 10 domains," he said. "We bought every one of the first set of domains. We bought TrashPandasBaseball.com, ArmyAntsBaseball.com, MoonPossums.com, all ten. And we trademarked. We filed 7 names with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. We did all of that months ago."
Nelson said Trash Panda merchandise is already in high demand.
"We have had inquiries for merchandise from 15 foreign countries," he stated.
Meanwhile, the Madison City Council still needs to vote on amendments to BallCorps's lease and licensing agreement. That includes a provision that required the team to be named after Madison. Mayor Paul Finley confirmed on Monday during the meeting that a vote would be required to change that, and wrap up a few other things that need to be adjusted within the agreement.
"To allow the name not to be Madison, to decrease our percentage of the utilities, along with a few other cleanups in the license agreement-- we still have to bring that forward," said Council President Tommy Overcash.
The council will need to wrap that up at an upcoming meeting.
They also need to award a bid for the stadium's construction.
"We were ecstatic with the bid we got," hinted Overcash. "We still have to do a few little tweaks to get the price down just a little bit more." That vote was also postponed until a late date because it was not ready for a vote.