Mascot changes, new logos and alternate uniforms are becoming more common in the sports world, and both Long Beach State and Long Beach City College have joined that trend by rolling out new logos and names this year. The Long Beach institutions of higher learning took input and worked the rebranding process on their own campus, and while Long Beach State has decided to move away from its mascot, the LBCC Vikings are embracing theirs.
Long Beach State
Athletic Director Andy Fee inherited a logo and naming crisis when he arrived on campus last year. The university has struggled for years with the dual branding of Long Beach State and Cal State University Long Beach, and it has been phasing out the 49ers moniker and Prospector Pete mascot since 2013. Since then, the athletic department stopped using 49ers in press releases and stopped having Prospector Pete appear at games. Instead, the athletic department refers to its teams as The Beach.
“With the name issue, there’s certainly passionate people on both sides, but most people don’t care,” Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley said last year. “I want to be cautious about moving ahead.”
Last year, the campus’s Associated Students Incorporated voted to form a committee on the 49ers issue which decided to move forward with changing the mascot—citing prospectors as being representative of the Gold Rush that caused “Indigenous genocide.” The entire student body will eventually have to vote on that issue. This week, the university also announced it will be moving the Prospector Pete statue that’s on upper campus into an alumni visitors center that hasn’t been built yet.
“I’m very excited about our rebrand,” Fee said. “Today we need to be more conscientious about our mascots and affiliations. We strive for inclusive excellence here, and we need to do that in everything we do.”
Close Conoley told the Daily 49er that the Cal State University system has requested that its schools move away from individuals as mascots. The campus newspaper and 49er Shops on campus have not announced any plans to change their names.
“We’ve had focus groups and campus conversations about all of these changes and more,” said university Associate Vice President for University Relations and Communications Andy Hoang. “This campaign is about unifying the university, but it is like changing tires on a moving car.”
Hoang and his staff have been working with the athletic department for two years trying to rebrand their sports teams without the 49ers mascot, and the BE/CH logo is their look for the future. Fee said he wanted to make sure to incorporate the pyramid shape because the Walter Pyramid is the only pyramid in the world that hosts year-round sporting events.
Along with the new BE/CH logo, Long Beach State will adopt darker colored uniforms and signage at facilities. There is also a new dark stain on the Walter Pyramid floor that features the “LB” logo at center court for the first time ever. Fee said he wants the colors and style of the university logos to match the grittiness of Long Beach.
“We’re trying to be more inclusive,” Fee said. “We’re not just Second Street and Naples, which is a great part of our town, and has been phenomenal with us, but this city is more than that. I think we need to acknowledge that. The history of this town, in my mind, was built with shipping and commerce and a rich tradition. We want to have a gritty, aggressive look to who we are. We’ve got exciting new uniforms that look like our city—that blue collar, gritty, in-your-face and out-work-you attitude.”
VIDEO: Fee talks about having multiple names for the university
Fee added that the gold uniforms fans have enjoyed in the past aren’t going anywhere; they’ll be used as alternative uniforms to, “make a statement” in certain “Gold Out” games.
“The process included reaching out to over 100,000 people with surveys to get different perspectives,” Fee said of the logo redesign. “This wasn’t just a knee-jerk, let’s just throw something up on the video board for the first day of school. This has been a very intensive process. Everybody has had a chance to have their voice heard.”
Long Beach State fans can voice their opinions on Wednesday, Sept. 19 when Fee hosts the first of three town-hall meetings at Joe Jost’s (2803 E Anaheim St.) at 6 p.m.
Long Beach City College
Athletic Director Randy Totorp wanted to update the Vikings logo when he was the interim athletic director from 2011 to 2013, but he admitted that other responsibilities of the job took precedence. That delay proved to be a blessing in disguise after LBCC hired a new executive director of public affairs and marketing, Joshua Castellanos, in January, and a new graphic design specialist, Marinda Martin, in March.
“The timing was good,” Totorp said. “I wanted us to have a Viking logo for the first time in school history. When you talk about mascots and logos and putting something in place, It can be a very challenging time to get people bought in and onboard with what you’re doing.”
VIDEO: Totorp talks about the redesign process and the advantages of rebranding
Totorp met with Castellanos and Martin earlier this year to bounce ideas around while incorporating local flavor into the Vikings profile like the beach, palm trees and waves. The announcement and release of the logo came earlier this month.
“It was a real team effort,” Castellanos said. “It was done in-house with the marketing department and designers who really just want to push the boundaries of the college. (Martin) blew our minds with what she was able to accomplish.”
Martin said she researched LBCC logos as far back as the 1940’s before coming up with an initial design that actually looks a lot like the finished product.
“I was really excited that both Randy and Josh trusted me enough so quickly to work on a project this big,” Martin said. “I’m sort of an outsider from Georgia where we don’t have palm trees and beaches. So, I kind of picked up on the things that are around here that I thought were novel.”
The official LBCC logo now features a full Vikings head with large helmet and beard with waves crashing beneath him. Totorp said it was important to him that the full Viking be the logo, and that type of branding and fresh looks are something he’s made a priority since being a men’s volleyball coach at the school.
“It plays a part in the student experience, and that is critically important in terms of recruitment, retention and all of those things are important in the things we should be focusing on,” Totorp said. “If you have an opportunity to impact that, for me, that’s what I want to do.”
Despite the controversial historic significance of the word Viking, and how they’ve been portrayed in Hollywood, Totorp said his athletic department hasn’t experienced any pushback like what’s happened at Long Beach State.
“Certainly there are historical references that could indicate challenges there,” Totorp said. “But we have not had that here at our college. The grey skin color (of the mascot) speaks to our cultural diversity. It’s something we appreciate about our mascot. There are a lot of iterations of vikings mascots. This one is ours.”
A vast rebranding by athletic departments would’ve been huge news in years past, but the writing is on the wall that this trend is becoming synonymous with sports.