(Editor’s note: Story by KPAX reporter Connor McCauley)
MISSOULA – Athletes are reporting to spring training by the end of February, which means baseball season is right around the corner.
The Missoula Osprey made a big announcement Monday that they will be changing their team name for the 2020 season.
Missoula’s Pioneer League baseball team has rocked the Osprey name and logo since 1999, but that era is ending after 20 years.
“That’s right, we are going to rebrand the franchise, and it’s going to be the fans’ job to help us make that happen. We want this to be a collaborative effort after 20 great seasons of Osprey baseball. We want our fans to help us define what are next 20 years are,” Osprey executive vice president Matt Ellis said.
Missoula minor league teams have repped a couple of different names, from the Highlanders to the Timberjacks, and the organization thinks that giving the fans the chance to pick the franchise’s next name will give the community a special connection to their team.
And the options are endless.
“What we are doing is we are challenging our market and our fans. We’re saying, ‘Hey, help us out think about Missoula, what makes Missoula great. I mean, is it our Native American roots? Is it Lewis and Clark? Is it Hellgate? Is it the logging industry? Is it the wildlife, the rivers, all of our natural resources? Smokejumpers? Culture, art? Winter, summer? Or downtown? What makes Missoula special to you as a fan?’” Ellis added.
It’s all in an attempt to make an Osprey game the best outing in Missoula.
“We want western Montana to think that Missoula Osprey baseball is the best fan-friendly, positive experience they can possibly have,” Ellis said.
To add to the fan experience the organization will also continue to improve Ogren Park.
“We are investing a lot of new things into the ballpark, which you will see some announcements later this spring as we start unveiling some of our plans for this year,” Ellis said. “We are going to invest in some new neighborhoods and concession areas in the ballpark. We are going to put some new technology in, maybe a new video board, for example. Do a lot of fun stuff that are going to make the ballpark a great experience.”