By JULIE ANN FORMOSO
UNLV athletic officials are ramping up all types of fan enhancements for Saturday’s football season home-opener (think free student rides and food), but one obvious missing item at Sam Boyd Stadium is any sign of the new university logo that was rolled out with much fanfare only two months ago. The beloved Hey Reb! logo was replaced by a new gray and red mark that featured the look of the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and also showed Las Vegas and UNLV landmarks, including mountains and the recognizable Hey Reb! mustache. The new emblem was created by a Denver-based firm at a cost of $50,000 in private donations.
But reaction was swift and harsh. Many reviews of the new logo were not pleasant and there were calls to just ditch the new emblem just like the city of Las Vegas did with its new mark this summer and start over. Hundreds of confused UNLV students and alumni had bashed the redesign on social media, declaring the logo was hard to interpret. UNLV released a logo explainer the same day, but the school was mocked for that gesture by critics who reasoned that logos should be self-explanatory.
When UNLV students started classes this week, there was only a small, limited number of shirts displaying the new logo at the student store.
And when the Raising Cane’s chicken finger fast-food chain, a UNLV football team sponsor, gave a $10,000 check this week to UNLV sports, the new logo was nowhere to be seen on the check. Instead, the arched UNLV lettered logo was used.
UNLV spokesman Vince Alberta noted that even though the Raising Cane’s sponsorship event was staged in front of Thomas & Mack, it was not an official UNLV event (it was a Raiders-Raising Cane’s sponsorship announcement). And therefore, he said, there was no need to display the new logo.
But the check did include a UNLV trademark — just not the new “spirit logo.”
And there’s more. Come fall, students can also expect a uniform change to the Hey Reb! mascot, according to a UNLV press release published the same day as the new logo reveal.
Alberta suggested the Hey Reb makeover will not be as drastic as the “spirit logo” overhaul.
“It will be easy to recognize the Hey Reb! Mascot,” Alberta said. He did not elaborate on the design of the new uniform.
Despite all the university fanfare surrounding the “spirit logo” roll-out two months ago, campus sightings of UNLV gear with the new logo is scarce. Some garments displayed at the front of the UNLV Bookstore are imprinted with the redesign, but a majority of the shop’s apparel are marked with the UNLV arch, the UNLV crest or with phrases like “Rebel strong.”
The new logo is also excluded on banners located throughout campus marking the university’s 60th anniversary. Freebies handed to students during the first week of school had no redesign markings either. Alberta did note that T-shirts with the new logo were available for students at one of the booths in Pida Plaza this week. This all begs a logical question: Did the sour logo reviews inhibit UNLV officials from showing off the new logo on gear and apparel this summer? Alberta says no.
“The transition to the new mark will be gradual,” he said. “The more time passes, the more the new mark will be incorporated in the assets that we use. This will be essentially over a period of time and it will take several years to do that.”
In regards to the 60th anniversary banners, Alberta said that they commemorate the “academic” side of UNLV. The “spirit logo,” he said, is geared more towards student organizations and athletic events, so the university decided not to include the redesigned emblem.
Perhaps most surprising to students and Rebels fans will be that one of the university’s biggest marketing tools — its football team — will not display any sign of the new logo. Instead, the player uniforms will remain the same as last year: with the UNLV arch on the helmet and a patch of the Hey Reb! logo on the sleeves.
But apparently even if the UNLV community was in love with the new logo, it still would not have been on the unis. Football team spokesperson Mark Wallington explained the uniforms were ordered before June and that changes to the garments only occur in “cycles.” Neither he nor Alberta could elaborate on how long “cycles” last.
Athletics Director Desiree Reed-Francois was more reticent to comment on the “spirit logo” when approached at the Raising Cane’s sponsorship announcement Wednesday. She said that her department will be “very strategic on how” it will use the new logo and will be “fiscally responsible.” That was all she had to comment on the new logo. It should be noted, a university official told LVSportsBiz.com, that the process to create a new logo began before Reed-Francois began her new gig as UNLV AD June 1.
Even though the new logo is a rare sighting, Alberta said it is here to stay.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a guest at the Raising Cane’s sponsorship announcement, reserved judgment about the redesign but did hint at her true feelings.
“Hey Reb! was so great,” the mayor quipped.