New Zealand’s newest sporting franchise and the Auckland-based baseball team competing in the Australian Baseball League will be called the Auckland Tuatara.
The club’s official name, logo and colours were unveiled at a press conference at Auckland Zoo today in front of invited guests and media.
Auckland Tuatara board member Brett O’Riley unveiled the Tuatara logo, which features the head of the native New Zealand reptile as well as the teal and royal navy colours that will define the franchise – a link to the region’s marine heritage.
“The Tuatara is an iconic creature unique to New Zealand and part of the Hauraki Gulf Islands conservation programme in Auckland. We are celebrating the resilience of the Tuatara as our oldest surviving species, and we want the team to mirror those qualities on the diamond,” Brett O’Riley said.
“We intend to make an annual contribution towards Tuatara conservation through Auckland Zoo and global coverage of the team will raise awareness of New Zealand’s commitment to species protection,” O’Riley added.
The creation of the franchise has been a long time coming with discussions first taking place eight years ago. Late last year Baseball New Zealand was offered a spot in an expanded Australian Baseball League and the decision was made to go for it.
A lot of hard work has gone into putting that idea into practice.
“We have tried to squeeze two years’ worth of work into six months,” said Baseball New Zealand chief executive Ryan Flynn.
“There is a tremendous appetite for professional baseball in New Zealand and we are delighted to be able to give Kiwi sports fans the opportunity to see it first-hand. It is a watershed moment for the sport in New Zealand – Kiwi kids will have a local team to aspire to and our leading players will be able to play professionally while being based here at home.”
The franchise is privately owned, with Baseball NZ as the major shareholder and a number of investors taking part shares in the organization.
The club is grateful for the financial support of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) which invests in an annual Major Events Portfolio on behalf of Auckland Council.
Stuart Turner, Head of Major Events at ATEED, said: “We are pleased to be able to support the establishment of the team’s debut season, which will bring further international exposure for our region in key tourism markets, and add to Auckland’s reputation as one of the world’s top sports event cities.
“In the longer term, the club’s presence in Auckland is projected to make a solid contribution to our region’s visitor economy, and help to directly and indirectly create quality jobs in two key sectors – high performance sport, and tourism.”
The Auckland Tuatara will play 12 home games at McLeod Park in Auckland later this year, starting with their first ever game on New Zealand soil on November 22.
A strong roster is being assembled that will feature at least eight Kiwi players as well as professional players from the United States, Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Former big leaguer and experienced manager Steve Mintz has been appointed as the club’s inaugural manager.