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New Storm logo & uniform are changes both big and small

Joe Kauffman
Sunday November 6, 2011

When I received the announcement last week that the Tampa Bay Storm would be changing their logo and uniform, I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive.  As someone who has been a fan of the Storm and the Arena Football League since they first moved to the area in 1991 from Pittsburgh, I had no idea what to expect.
While not the team’s original logo or colors, the midnight blue jerseys  and gold helmets, the wordmark featuring the swirl for an “O”, has been the team’s identity for the last 16 seasons. In a league that has seen 34 new franchises come and 24 go (excluding  name changes, relocations or retconned histories), only the San Jose SaberCats and Iowa Barnstormers helmets go back that far… even the Arizona Rattlers dropped their iconic copper helmets last year in favor of black.

Tampa Bay Storm logos

Tampa Bay Storm logos, old (top) and new (bottom).

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Storm

I could go on talking about the Tampa Bay Storm’s place in the 25-year history of the AFL, but if you’re reading this article and visiting ArenaFan, you already know all this.
With all that in mind, you can understand why I was a bit worried when the logo and uniform that I and fellow Storm fans had cherished for so many years was about to change.
But the very next thought to cross my mind was this: “Trust Jeff Vink and his team.”
Vinik, who also owns the Tampa Bay Lightning has been getting kudos from fans and the media alike as the fan-friendliest pro-sports owner in the Tampa Bay area. He quickly brought in the right people to turn around the troubled hockey team and sunk millions of his own dollars into renovating the St. Pete Times Forum (and I have to add, the place is gorgeous, and it’s still under construction). Last January, he bought the Tampa Bay Storm and added local football standouts and businessmen Derrick Brooks and Jeff Gooch to run the team.

Tampa Bay Storm uniform

Tampa Bay Storm uniform.

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Storm

So it was Saturday night that I found myself at the St. Pete Times Forum for the 2012 Tampa Bay Storm Fan Fest, along with several hundred Tampa Bay Storm fans, both apprehensive and eagerly anticipating the unveiling. Following a rally emceed by longtime Storm radio play-by-play announcer Jack Harris, featuring video highlights of great moments in Storm history, a brief speech from team president Derrick Brooks and an announcement of new benefits for season ticket holders, the team unveiled its new word-mark and logo on the giant video board above the field.
The crowd reaction was immediate and positive, and I must admit I felt the same way. The change wasn’t as radical as I had expected. It still said “Tampa Bay” in small letters, and “STORM” in big. The font had been updated, and the iconic 5-point gold lightning bolt swirl was replaced by a stylized hurricane symbol featuring the laces and outline of a football in its center.
Talking with team vice president Jeff Gooch after the event, he told me that the team didn’t want to make any radical changes to the word mark because of its history in the community, but at the same time that they understood that arena football teams are not as well known, so they wanted the new logo to be immediately recognizable as a logo for a football team.
I think the organization met both of its goals, and I for one can’t wait to get a hat with the new logo on it.
The other big test of night was the unveiling of the new team uniforms.  Players Cliff Dukes, Nick Hill, Amarri Jackson and Tom Kaleita served as uniform models for the evening, with two coming out of the tunnel in home blues and two coming out in road whites.
Under the brighter lights of the recently renovated building, the new uniform color was a bit of a shock. As I had expected, gone was the midnight blue, and in its place was Tampa Bay Blue, the same iconic shade used by the Tampa Bay Lightning and in the facades of the St. Pete Times Forum.  I use the word shocking, not because it was a bad choice, but because the new blue pops in the bright lights, and this seemingly small shade change is a very noticible difference.
Gone were the gold pants and the white pants used over the last several seasons, replaced by the same Tampa Bay Blue. The jersey and pants feature a continuous angled gold stripe that begins in a point on the pants and goes up the jersey. The stripe is also present in the road whites.
Talking to Gooch, coach Dave Ewart and others in the Storm organization at the event  they all had the same initial reactions to the color change, but said that after looking at the new uniforms over the last several days, they have gotten used to it. Having had a few hours to digest it myself, I’m beginning to feel the same way, and my only criticism of the uniform, which may be just part of my initial reaction as a fan, is that the shade of gold comes across as more yellow than gold under the bright lights.

Tampa Bay Storm helmet

Tampa Bay Storm helmet.

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Storm

Also gone were the Las Vegas gold helmets, replaced with blue helmets featuring a white facemask and white-blue-white striping pattern. Rather than use the entire word mark like the old helmet, only the hurricane logo portion was used. I think this is a good choice, because the football laces in the hurricane logo as the “O” would have been too small to be seen clearly on tv or by fans in the stands. And it may or may not have been intentional, but the design is reminiscent of the original 1991-1992 Tampa Bay Storm helmet (remember the Zubaz years?), which also was blue with a white facemask.
Finally, we can expect to see a new field when the season begins, although designs for the end zones have not been finalized. Regardless of the new look, the team is due for a new field. The current field dates back to 2003, when all Arena Football League teams were required to purchase new fields, making it one of the oldest fields in the league.
Overall, I have to say that I think the choices made for the new logo, wordmark and uniform are all positive. I expect there will be mixed reactions from fans from around the league, but you really need to see everything in person under the bright lights of the St. Pete Times Forum in order to form an informed opinion.
But the most important aspect of the announcements and the changes was this: I sit here on November 6th, 2011 and I cannot wait for March and the 2012 Arena Football season to get underway!



Joe Kauffman is President and Editor in Chief of Arenafan Online, having joined the staff in 2000. He graduated from Florida State University in 1998 with a degree in communications andbuilds ecommerce sites for a day job. Joe has enjoyed Arena Football since 1991 and has been a member of the Arena Football Internet community since 1995. Prior to Joining Arenafan, he was a co-founder and Technical Editor of the Storm Shelter, which covered the Tampa Bay Storm from 1996-99. Joe and his wife Erika live in Hackettstown, New Jersey with their two daughters.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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