Hornets Helmet Archives World Football League

The Charlotte Observer
October 6,1974
By Al Cowan


The New York Sates professional football is now officially the Charlotte Hornets.

For three long hours Saturday, Upton Bell, the team's vice president, stared long and hard at two piles of papers with suggested names on them, deliberating over the new name he would choose for his World Football League team.

He had narrowed his choices from the 564 different names submitted by the fans during a six-day contest to two. The piles stared back.

One pile had 252 nominations for the Metros, the other had 188 for the Hornets.

"There's no question I like the Hornet's sound better," Bell said. A few minutes later, he had changed his mind. "Whatever you do, you come back to the Metros."

Bell sat in an office on the fifth floor of the Charlotte Observer - were collected - and deliberated. He broke down the nominations down into submitting cities. He read the letters that accompanied them 0 including Foster West of Boone - to understand why the fans made the nominations.

He drank coffee and smoked while he weighed the impact of any name he selected.

He repeatedly checked the list of names to make sure he hadn't overlooked one that might be more appropriate.

"My concern is that in the end it represents more than football," Bell said. Then he picked the Hornets.

(Preceding the football Hornets were the baseball Hornets, a Southern League franchise team owned by the Minnesota Twins, who moved the baseball Hornets out of Charlotte at the end of the 1971 season citing a lack of public support as the reason for the move.)

Bell choose the Hornets name because of the name's historical significance and its regional appeal, dating back to the American Revolution, Cornwallis referred to the Charlotte area as as hornets next because of the fierce opposition to the British.

Bell also picked the Hornets because of the numerous promotional opportunities it presents. The mascot, Bell suggested, could be someone dressed in a Hornet costume. The defensive unit could be called "The Swarm" while the potent Charlotte offense could be called "The Sting."

"Of all the decisions I've made this week I thought this would be the easies." a tired Bell said. "But this was the most difficult."

The Hornets, formerly the New York Stars until Bell moved them here Sept. 25 will play their first game in Charlotte at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Memorial Stadium against the Memphis Southmen. The Hornets are 9-5 overall in the WFL competition, just one game behind the Eastern Division leaders Florida Blazers at 10-4.

After the selection was made Bell conducted a drawing to pick the winners. He had promised a pair of season tickets to five persons who made the nomination. To show his concern fro the community he made a "first-time" gesture by donation one $3.50 ticket to the 183 persons who submitted the name but weren't drawn as season winners.

The five season-ticket winners are: William E. Early, Charlotte: Marvin S. Yandie, Lincolnton: Roger C. Adkins, Charlotte: Harry W. Dill, Charlotte: Mrs. Martin E. Boyel Sr., Charlotte.

Bell personally called each of the winners to congratulate them and give them instructions on how to pick up their season tickets. He said that his staff would contact the 183 winners of the single tickets.

Bell said he made the gesture because "you've got to give something back if you're getting something. We can't be some people in an ivory tower where fans can't reach us."

Mrs. Bessie Boyer, 87 one of the five season-ticket winners in naming the Charlotte Hornets football team, looks over Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon with Upton Bell who tries to persuade her to come to Wednesday night's game.