dream_logo_small.jpgDare to dream. That’s the message of officials with Atlanta’s new WNBA team.

Hoping to capture the spirit of the city and touch on its history, the team unveiled its new name today: the Atlanta Dream.

The team, which opens play at home on May 23 in Philips Arena, also unveiled its logo and color scheme to the media, sports fans and excited season ticket holders during a press conference at the East Lake Family YMCA.

“Atlanta is a city of dreamers and this week we have had time to reflect on what it means to dream and what can happen when you do,” team owner Ron Terwilliger said. “We believe Dream best captures Atlanta’s spirit and the core values of the WNBA. We look forward to the Atlanta Dream continuing to make history as we work toward our goal of transcending sports.”

But the Dream will also have to overcome history in building a successful franchise. The last women’s basketball team in the city, the Atlanta Glory of the American Basketball League, folded in 1998 after two years. The Dream, the WNBA’s 14th team, also joins a crowded roster of professional sports franchises in Atlanta, including the Braves, Falcons, Hawks and Thrashers.

Terwilliger and city boosters, including City Council President Lisa Borders, said to fill thousands of seats at Philips means taking a different tack than pursuing the hard core, male-dominated fans that regularly attend games. That effort will include reaching out to gay and lesbian fans, something team officials, supporters and Borders, who is now an adviser to the team, have been doing even before the WNBA awarded the franchise to Atlanta on Oct. 17.

“The support in Atlanta has been tremendous and we look forward to seeing the Dream grow and prosper throughout the inaugural 2008 season and beyond,” WNBA President Donna Orender said Wednesday.

Orender, who visited Atlanta last April to pitch the league and check in on the city’s bid, at the time touted diverse demographics, strong television ratings for WNBA games and a rich basketball environment as Atlanta’s strengths. The city eventually beat out competing efforts to lure a team in Kansas City, Colorado and Bentonville, Ark.

Atlanta’s large gay and lesbian population was an asset, too, Orender said in April. “We are very inclusionary and embrace everyone. That is part of our core value system,” she said.

The Dream’s color scheme is red and sky blue. In the logo, Atlanta is spelled out in red capital letters above Dream, which is written in sky blue capital letters and shadowed with red and white. Three light blue stars surround the A of Dream with one star in the middle and a basketball shooting out of the star.

The announcement of a team name, logo and colors comes after fans were able to vote on a handful of options. Choices for team name included the Dream, Flight, Sizzle and Surge. The finalists for the color scheme were navy blue and gold; green and gold; sky blue and red; hot pink, silver and black; and mint green, black and silver.

When the WNBA’s 12th season opens in May, the Dream will compete in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Detroit Shock, Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Washington Mystics.