EL PASO, Texas (AP) — It's a tiny dog with very big marketing potential, the stuff of bygone Taco Bell commercials and a must-have fashion accessory for the likes of Paris Hilton.
Chihuahuas probably don't strike much fear in the hearts of opponents on the baseball diamond, and El Paso's new minor league team freely admits their moniker is a bit ridiculous.
But, the El Paso Times reported (http://bit.ly/1dzLx6A) Sunday that, from a marketing standpoint, it might be brilliant.
In less than 24 hours after the MountainStar Sports Group announced the name of the new Triple-A team this week, El Paso was mentioned on ESPN's SportsCenter, trended on Twitter and was written about nationwide.
The team website quickly made sales in 35 different states, as well as Canada and Mexico.
The Chihuahuas' Facebook page has more than 19,000 likes, more than General Manager Brad Taylor's former team, the Bowling Green Hot Rods, he said.
"You get on the radar and so people start looking at you," Taylor said. "They say, 'If they are crazy enough to name them the Chihuahuas, what else are they going to do.'"
The Chihuahuas will debut in a new stadium in April, replacing the El Paso Diablos. The Chihuahuas are part of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Some minor league teams with unusual names — the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Montgomery Biscuits and Savannah Sand Gnats — have gone through rather rough debuts. But others, such as Albuquerque Isotopes are still going strong. The Isotopes — named for a fictional ballclub on "The Simpsons" — debuted in 2003.
Jose Lopez, president and CEO of El Paso's Lopez Marketing Group, said discussion of the city's new team name should have spiked shortly after the announcement than dissipated — but it's still turning heads.
He said Sun Dogs, Desert Gators, Buckaroos and Aardvarks monikers were also considered, but that the tiny dog was chosen because of its family appeal.
"This short little dog can appeal to kids for years," he said.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled. A petition asking MountainStar to change the team was started on Change.org, and within 24 hours, it had close to 4,000 online signatures. By Friday, more than 9,000 people — the capacity of the ballpark being built for the team — had signed the petition.
The team is not planning any formal response to the naysayers.
Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com