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Pelicans hit home court for first time

NEW ORLEANS - Warren Dragon made a stop on the way to Wednesday night's Pelicans game to buy a shirt with the team's logo.

The tags on their T-shirts may be just removed, but fans are already feeling the love for New Orleans' revamped basketball team.

People lined up early to get into the Arena, eager to see all of the changes made for the team's first season.

"The new renovations," said Jeff Pizzetta. "I think the Pelicans are going to go a long way this year. I think we're going to be a playoff team."

Workers this week finished the first phase of a $50 million renovation. The Creole blue is gone, replaced by dark blue, red and gold. But a hint of the Hornets still remains with some fans still wearing their jerseys.

Robert Lyons says the new name takes a little getting used to.

"I just say 'Go Pels' until I get it," he said. "I don't say completely 'Go Pelicans,' I just say 'Go Pels.'"

It's not just a change in the name and the colors fans are noticing, it's a change with the team too - a new energy. Longtime season ticket holder Janice Butler can feel it.

"It's going to be exciting to see the new guys come on, all these youngsters," she said.

Though the regular season hasn't started yet, Dragon believes the name Pelicans will quickly catch on.

"It's hard to remember, because everybody you talk to wants to bring up the Hornets," he said. "By the end of the season, we'll be alright. When we make the playoffs, we'll be just fine."

A new era in the Arena is about to take flight.

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