Lamigo Monkeys Rebranded as Rakuten Monkeys
On December 17, Japan’s Rakuten Inc unveiled the new team name and uniforms for their CPBL team. Going forward, the Lamigo Monkeys will be rebranded as the Rakuten Monkeys.
“We are extremely honoured to present the new team name and uniforms here in Taiwan,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Rakuten Inc. “We will use our NPB experience to provide long-term contribution to the Taiwanese baseball community.”
Mikitani continued, “This is a very special opportunity for us because we believe the power of sports, and we wish to reach out to the Taiwanese community through baseball.“
Why Retain the Monkeys Identity?
A few months ago, rumours began to circulate that Rakuten wanted to use the name “Rakuten Eagles / Rakuten Golden Eagles” in the CPBL. However, with Taoyuan city determined to keep the Monkeys identity, Rakuten decided to add “Rakuten Monkeys” as the alternative option.
Based on the public records from Taiwan Intellectual Property Office, Rakuten filed “Rakuten Eagles” and “Rakuten Golden Eagles” trademarks on September 16. They filed another new trademark “Rakuten Monkeys” on September 26.
According to Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-Tsan, to convince Rakuten to keep the Monkeys identity has been on his mind since day one. Cheng explained, in Mandarin, the word for Monkeys is a play-on-word of the City of Taoyuan. Over the years, the Monkeys have set its roots down in Taoyuan and became an integral part of the city.
“I’m pleased to see Rakuten decided to retain the word Monkeys in the team name,” said the Mayor. “The local fans have since developed a strong connection to the Monkeys’ identity.”
Wu Chih-Yang, the CPBL commissioner, was also at the press conference. During his speech, he said he is eager to see what Rakuten can bring to the CPBL, as they are the first foreign entity to own a professional baseball team in Taiwan.
“When I found out Rakuten could be the potential buyer of the Lamigo Monkeys I was ecstatic with the news,” said the CPBL commissioner Wu Chih-Yang. “Both Rakuten and Lamigo are young and highly innovated organisations in the baseball industry. It is a match made in heaven.”
Rakuten Monkeys’ Home, Away Uniforms
To stay in line with the Rakuten corporate colours, the Rakuten Monkeys went with crimson, gold and white as their primary colours.
The home uniform is a clean white design with crimson contrast which extends from underarms down the side of the waist. The chest script is the company name “Rakuten” in crimson colour.
For the away uniform, the Rakuten Monkeys design team went with full crimson as the primary colour along with “Rakuten” chest script in white. The uniform also features gold headspoon piping for contrast.
“I like the new colour scheme, it is very similar to Rakuten’s NPB team,” said the Monkeys’ first baseman Chen Chun-Hsiu. “The new uniform is very comfortable to wear.”
Although Rakuten decided to retain the word Monkeys as their new team name, the old Monkeys’ element is nowhere to be seen on the Rakuten Monkeys’ uniforms.
Justin Liu as Monkeys’ General Manager
During the press conference, Rakuten also announced that Justin Liu, the general manager of the Lamigo Monkeys would remain in the same role with the Rakuten Monkeys.
“With all the resources provided by Rakuten, we can now attempt to achieve the things we were unable to do so back in the day,” said Justin Liu. “Stadium renovation, replanning of the seating zone layout and a new grading system for players management are just a few things we plan to do next year.”
According to Takashi Watanabe, the Vice-Chairman of Rakuten Monkeys, they wish to take full advantage of Justin’s previous CPBL front office experience.
“The first time I met Justin, I knew that I need to keep him as our general manager,” said the vice-chairman. “Justin has a lot of passion for baseball, and we hope he can continue to spearhead the development of the team.”
Rakuten Monkeys’ Manager: Tseng Hao-Ju
Apart from the new team name and uniforms announcement, the Rakuten Monkeys also named Tseng Hao-Ju as the team’s new manager for the 2020 season.
“It is a new challenge for me, and I will do my best to fulfil the goals set by the organisation,” said the Monkeys’ new manager. “I want to thank Rakuten for believing in me.”
Tseng went on and said his top priority would be farm team development and boosting the first-team bench depth. He believes this can keep the players motivated and creates a spirit of competitiveness among players.
The 40-year-old skipper was the former outfielder for the La New Bears and Lamigo Monkeys from 2004 to 2013.
After retirement, Tseng began his coaching career as the farm team hitting coach for the Lamigo Monkeys. In mid-2015, the Monkeys promoted Tseng to the first-team, and he has been working as the hitting coach ever since.
Rakuten Monkeys’ Home Stadium for Renewal
The Rakuten Monkeys are currently in talks with the Taoyuan city council about renewing their home, Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium.
The city council want to adjust the stadium operational rights fee from $10,000 USD to $100,000 USD a year. According to the Mayor, that $10,000 fee was from over ten years ago as an incentive to get a professional team to Taoyuan. Now, the city wants to adjust it to reflect the market value.
“Despite the increase, it will cover more area within the Taoyuan sports complex,” said the Mayor. “It will give Rakuten more control and access when it comes to ballpark operation.”
Takashi Watanabe, the Vice-Chairman of Rakuten Monkeys, told the media that the Taoyuan Stadium has a lot of potentials and they will work hard to develop it.
“Before we purchased the Monkeys, they are already the most popular team in the CPBL,” said the Monkeys’ vice-chairman. “In order to increase attendance, we’ll need to do even better than the Lamigo Monkeys.”
In 2019, the Lamigo Monkeys led the CPBL attendance with an average of 7307 fans per game. The league, as a whole, sat at 5826 per game. You can read more 2019 CPBL attendance analysis here.
More Photos From Rakuten Monkeys’ Press Conference
We were fortunate enough to get invited to the Rakuten Monkeys’ press conference in Taipei. Special thanks to our friend Andy Chen (CityWall) for doing an outstanding job covering the event with plenty of photos.
Pre-Show, Press Conference Photos
Lovely Rakuten Girls
Rakuten Monkeys’ Merchandise
Uniforms and Players