What's in a letter? In T-Town, 'R' is king

KING 5's Chris Daniels reports.

There have been a lot of red letter days in Tacoma as of late.

On Wednesday, it hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game before a capacity crowd at Cheney Stadium.  It could be considered a reward for the city spending millions to upgrade the decades-old stadium and the private investments.

Or it could be based on the fact that fans now spell Tacoma with an "R."

That's right. T-Town has fallen in love with another letter.

"I've been around long enough to call it various names starting with a T," said Alexa Donley. "I like the R."

"It's cool, it's clean," said Mark Gray, who was sporting the "R" cap Wednesday night.  The longtime Tacoma resident says he's among the fans who have fallen in love with a logo.

You see, just a few years ago, the Tacoma Rainiers franchise was looking for a makeover.  Relatively new owner Mikal Thomsen and crew wanted to refresh the brand, uniforms, and apparel.  Their secondary jerseys included the "R" script, which looks remarkably like the old Rainier Beer mark.

They quickly noticed that fans weren't buying the primary colors or gear, but wanted the letter.  Thomsen says it stands for the mountain, not the beer.  He and team President Aaron Artman decided to go all in, on all things R - and it worked.

Merchandise sales have spiked 94 percent in just two years, putting the team among the tops in Minor League baseball and garnering attention from the rest of the AAA Division.  The franchise added privately financed additions to the stadium to continue the theme.

"The R Yard and the R Bar are just a fact that I see people all over the place wearing R caps," said Thomsen. 

There are multiple signs in the stadium which also tout "We R Tacoma," and the letter figured prominently in the All Star festivities as well.

The trend will likely continue as long as the symbol doesn't turn into a scarlet letter.

In fact, Gray may have coined the next turn of phrase, when speaking about the logo Wednesday night.

"The R, R's, Ours."

© 2017 KING-TV


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