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THE `BEES’ WON’T BE BUZZING AROUND FRANKLIN QUEST FIELD

SHARE THE `BEES’ WON’T BE BUZZING AROUND FRANKLIN QUEST FIELD

To Chris Holvoet and his Burlington, Iowa, Bees, timing is everything.

Back in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, Burlington's professional baseball team had the nickname "Bees." So did the team in Salt Lake City.No problem. The teams played in different leagues, more than 1,000 miles apart.

But times have changed. Last season, Holvoet, who is general manager of the Burlington club, helped bring back the Bees nickname and logo to the club. Now, he says, Salt Lake City's new professional baseball team better not take the same name, even if it does play in a different league.

That's bad news, according to Salt Lake officials and the owner of the city's new team. "Bees" is the most popular choice for the team's new nickname.

"We've done a lot of work on this name and logo," Holvoet said from his office in Iowa, explaining how he and his colleagues took the decades-old Bees logo and added muscles and an aggressive sneer. "We market worldwide. We've sold over 400 dozen caps with our logo on them so far this year."

Although Salt Lake residents are unlikely to see many of those caps on their streets, Joe Buzas, the man who is bringing AAA baseball back to Utah next season, said Holvoet has a point. He had the name first.

Despite his own preferences and those of many Utahns he has spoken with, Buzas likely won't name his team the Bees - the name that graced Salt Lake's professional team from the early years of this century to the mid-1960s.

"Nobody cared before," Buzas said. "But the logos have been taking off like never before. It used to be you named the team after the parent club, but not any more."

Carol Coleman, a spokeswoman for the major league commissioner's office, agreed team logos have become a major business, even in the minor leagues.

"They're all merchandising their products," she said. "If they have a logo, they don't want someone else to use it."

All team logos are licensed by the National Association - the group that represents all minor leagues - in cooperation with Major League Properties, a subsidiary of the major leagues. Buzas isn't likely to get the name "Bees" licensed if it already belongs to Burlington.

Misann Ellmaker, director of licensing for the National Association, said Buzas and Holvoet could work out a deal. But she doesn't recommend it.

"I advise clubs to choose a name that's both original and not being used by another sports organization," she said. "Because they (Burlington) have the first date of use, they own the name Bees."

Ellmaker said the licensing division is only 2 years old. "To be honest, in the past nobody cared if we had two, three or four clubs with the same name," she said.

Holvoet said the Burlington team abandoned the Bees nickname in the '60s and were known at various times as the Rangers, Expos and Astros - after the major league teams with which the club was affiliated. He said the team decided to return to the Bees to build a sense of local pride and identification.

He's glad he didn't wait until Salt Lake City had a chance at the name.

But the Burlington Bees aren't the only stumbling blocks for Buzas. Utah's new professional roller hockey team is known as the Rollerbees. While that doesn't present any legal conflicts, Buzas said he thinks having two professional teams with bees in their name may become confusing.

Buzas said he may organize a contest and solicit ideas from local fans on the new name. He doesn't want to keep the team's Portland name, the Beavers, even though major league officials want him to.

"Beavers' items are the hottest things on the market this year," he said. "We've sold more than during any other year. A lot of people are buying things because they want mementos."

Although Buzas wants to change the name, he doesn't have any great ideas.

"I don't know. Mosquitoes? It's going to be tough. We need a good logo with a local flavor."