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Hornets fans attend last home game before name change

New Orleans, La - Basketball fans gathered in the New Orleans Arena Sunday night to watch the Hornets play their final home game of the season. Next year, the team will be known as the Pelicans. Fans say it's the end of a era.

At the entrance to Champions Square, Hornets fans proudly took pictures before the final home game, with a larger than life version of team mascot Hugo. Fan Natalie Luquette said, "It's going to be history."

Soon almost everything about this professional basketball team will be history. Along with a name change to the Pelicans, will come new uniforms, new colors and logos. And fans say, hopefully, new momentum for next season.

"It's kinda sad but I think they need a fresh start," said Ricky Cheramie.

Luquette added, "I'm looking forward to new beginnings. I think it's great for the city, so I'm excited."

Some fans still have reservations about the big change...and wonder what they'll do with their Hornets gear. "I have a couple of hats and shirts. I'll probably just put them in a box and save them," Cheramie said.

Inside the arena, most fans still sported Hornets colors to celebrate this final home game, but a Hornets spokesperson says new Pelicans gear became an instant hit as soon as it was available. "The merchandise has been flying off the shelves, I know in the team store, Pelicans stuff sells very well," Hornets spokesman Harold Kaufman said.

Patrick James wanted his daughter to be decked out in Pelican's gear for her very first basketball game. "It's the start of a new beginning so we just went ahead and bought them instead of getting the old shirts, might as well get the new ones," James said.

The positive feedback from fans is good news to Hornets staff, who themselves prepare for a major undertaking at the arena. In just days, everything associated with the Hornets, logos and colors, must go. Kaufman explains, "You're talking about banners, and external and internal, and naturally there's a lot of renovations that'll take place in the arena this year so it's all about the upgrading and the fan experience and all those are going to be enhanced before the beginning of next season."

Kaufman says it'll be an exciting time within the organization...and hopefully the fans will be able to share in that new excitement as well.

This summer, the team's new uniforms will be un-veiled and Harold Kaufman says the team will even get input from the fans on some decisions such as what to name the dance team.

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