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Brave Thunders to retain name under new ownership

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Now under new ownership, the Kawasaki Brave Thunders will be called … the Kawasaki Brave Thunders.

DeNA Kawasaki Brave Thunders Co., Ltd., which took over as the operating company of the B. League first-division club at the beginning of this month, announced it has decided to continue on with the name that has been used by one of the most storied clubs in Japanese basketball for quite some time.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion regarding the team name since we entered this year,” said Nobuo Motozawa, the club’s CEO, at a news conference in Kawasaki on Wednesday. “And we’ve come to the decision to not change it.”

The Brave Thunders had been run by Toshiba Corporation for the past 68 years. Toshiba has other sports teams that share the “Brave” part of the nickname, such as the Toshiba Brave Lupas of the rugby Top League and Toshiba Brave Areus of the industrial baseball league.

Motozawa admitted there were voices who suggested coming up with a completely new name, but that the new company asked Toshiba for the right maintain the familiar moniker for the fans.

“This team has tradition from the Toshiba era,” Brave Thunders point guard Ryusei Shinoyama said in a statement. “And I am pleased the name of the Thunders, which I had been admiring since I was a boy, has remained.”

The team will also retain the same staff from last season, including head coach Takuya Kita, who has guided the Brave Thunders to a pair of league championships (during the NBL era) and one All-Japan Championship title since he took the helm in the 2011-12 season.

Having observed how the staff operated during games and other events since the announcement of the change in ownership last December, Motozawa said he has been impressed with the exceptional professionalism of the staff.

“We’ve seen their skills and knowledge to help the players as best as possible,” said Motozawa, who had been the business operation director for NPB’s Yokohama DeNA BayStars. “Plus, they can sacrifice themselves to their jobs. I was impressed to see there’s a group that has such high professionalism. So we can entrust the task to them with confidence.”

Motozawa also explained the club would pour effort into entertainment at its home contests. He said that there will be a center-hung videoboard at Todoroki Arena, which has not existed. The company will also enhance the areas outside of the arena for the fans by installing a stage and having more places that sell food and merchandise, among other improvements.

Motozawa said the club eventually wants to move to a new arena which could seat 10-15,000 fans. Todoroki has a capacity of about 5,000.

The 41-year-old Motozawa added that the club eventually wants to triple its annual home attendance to 300,000 from that of the 2017-18 campaign.

The Brave Thunders have played the majority of their home games on Fridays and Saturdays, instead of Saturdays and Sundays, but plan to do the latter more next season.

The new operating company has dubbed its plan the “Exciting Basketball Park” project.

“We would like offer an extraordinary space to the fans,” Motozawa said. “Living in your daily life, you don’t get excited, raise your voice and show your emotion openly very often. But we have the extraordinary space at the Exciting Basketball Park.”

Motozawa said the club would be able to take advantage of the experience he gained running the BayStars, who are one of the most successful clubs in Nippon Professional Baseball from the business aspect and in fan satisfaction.

Meanwhile, though the team has a new logo, its team’s dark red primary color will remain the same.