They may have the Islanders name, but they’re all in on Bridgeport.
That was the messaging executives on Monday after the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were rebranded as the Bridgeport Islanders. The change was a long time coming but had been teased by the organization over the last week.
The Bridgeport Islanders will keep the orange and blue color scheme with a new logo that features a large “B” in the center that includes a hockey stick to help shape the letter with “NY” spelled out in tape on the end of the stick.
“We wanted to move in this direction. We saw 21-22 as a perfect time to do it and really solidify our connection with the New York Islanders brand,” president of business operations Brent Rossi said during a zoom call on Monday. “There’s been iterations for the last year. Everyone from our organization, from the top of our organization was involved in this. From our ownership group to Lou (Lamoriello) to Chris (Lamoriello).
“Everybody had a say in it and ultimately it was really about creating that deeper connection with the Islanders brand, but also legitimizing our franchise here in Bridgeport.”
We're not going anywhere, Bridgeport.
— Bridgeport Islanders (@AHLIslanders) May 10, 2021
The Islanders AHL affiliate has called Bridgeport home since it began play during the 2001-02 season and has spent the past 20 years affiliated with the Islanders. The rebranding had been in the works for the past year and a half, according to Rossi.
There had been some speculation over the last week that the rebrand could be the beginning of a move of the team to Long Island. The New York Islanders are moving into UBS Arena next season and the Nassau Coliseum will be without an anchor tenant.
Adding to the speculation was the fact that Bridgeport’s lease with Webster Bank Arena was up at the end of this season. Both Rossi and general manager Chris Lamoriello said that relocation has not been on either of their radars, and Rossi even hinted at some “positive news” coming down the pipeline about their arena situation.
“We have working with the city over the last couple of years really to figure out what the future of this venue is going to be,” Rossi said. “Both from obviously from the lease perspective and from an improvements perspective to the physical venue. I will tell you I’m very optimistic and we’re heading in a very good direction where we’re going to have some very positives announcements within the next couple of months to that particular topic.”
Monday’s news and recommitment to Bridgeport shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky told reporters during a media tour of the NHL club’s facility in East Meadow that keeping the team in Bridgeport was the preferred option.
Lamoriello told reporters on Monday that the rebrand was a clear sign of the organization’s commitment to the city.
“The Islanders have a great history in Bridgeport and it’s certainly our hope and our intention that this will be our home for the foreseeable future,” Lamoriello said. “I don’t think there’s any question about the commitment we’d like to have with the city and certainly the continuation of this franchise being located in Bridgeport. And the top developmental destination for the Islanders prospects.”
Great news for Bridgeport and great news for Connecticut. Can't wait to see the puck drop! 🏒 https://t.co/acoPke72ZI
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) May 10, 2021
The organization honed in rather quickly on rebranding the AHL club as the Islanders. Lamoriello wouldn’t go into too much detail about any other names that were considered, but he did suggest there weren’t many other options that made sense for them.
“I can certainly look at this and say we had a focus right away and we just tried to develop that focus,” Lamoriello said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary season for the Bridgeport Islanders. The intention of the club isn’t to hide from the history the organization has had over the past 20 years and Rossi indicated that there would be some celebration to honor the team’s past.
“Our efforts this year are all about the fan experience,” Rossi said. “We do have some creative ideas.”