IT'S back. From where it never should have been.
Hawks president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi confirmed on Tuesday that 'Illawarra' will once again take pride of place on the foundation club's logo after an innovative sponsorship approach met the NBL's lofty membership target.
The NBL faced a fierce backlash to the decision to strip the region from the club's logo in granting the franchise license to a new ownership group in June.
It saw sponsors pull the plug on their involvement with the club, while Member for Whitlam, and Hawks member, Stephen Jones blasted the move on the floor of parliament as "an act of corporate theft."
Kordahi subsequently signed the greatest coach in NBL history, and long-time friend, Brian Goorjian as coach on a two-year deal, with the six-time championship-winner taking the club to a 4-1 start.
Faced with the off-court backlash, the ownership group first asked the NBL to consider re-instating the Illawarra name in November with the league responding by setting an ambitious membership target of 4379 - representing the club's unmatched 43 years in the league and its inaugural season in 1979.
Goorjian brought fresh momentum to the issue with a passionate call to see Illawarra returned following his team's 20-point win over Cairns a fortnight ago, declaring "it's time."
"The rest of the way, if I win every game and win the whole thing and we're still [just] 'Hawks', I haven't done my job," he said.
The league poured cold water on the prospect in the immediate aftermath but relented over the weekend after major sponsor Pepper Money funded 1500 memberships. It came after fellow major sponsors Multi Civil and Rail, No 1 Draft Pick and City Motors Group each chipped in 500 memberships as the club edged towards the target.
With around 1500 returning members, the club's moved past the mark in time for the club's first home game at the WEC on Wednesday night, a blockbuster clash with league leaders Melbourne United. Kordahi said the return of the name made good on the ownership group's promises when it first took hold of the Hawks license.
"This is a proud day for our club, our corporate partners and our fans," Kordahi said.
"We have worked tirelessly to lift this proud club off the canvas and back into the NBL limelight. Today our hard work has again been vindicated and we can return the proud 'Illawarra' name to this team and the wonderful community that support it.
"We thank the NBL for all of their support since we took over the club last June. They have backed us to rebuild the club and we are very appreciative of everything they have done to make this happen.
"Most of all we want to thank all of our fans and corporate partners who have supported us during this period. We couldn't do this without them and we encourage all people across the Illawarra region to get behind the club and ensure its long term viability.
"It's been a great few months for the Illawarra Hawks but our work is not done. We've assembled a winning squad, got the best coach in the league and we continue to receive amazing corporate support. Now we need the fans to get behind us and help raise the club to even greater heights."
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