FLORENCE, Ky. (FOX19) - On Tuesday, the Florence Freedom officially announced they’re changing their name to the Florence Y’alls.
The name plays off the long-time highway-side staple Florence Y’all water tower, but the history of the tower raises interesting questions about the structure which could arguably be considered a form of advertisement for the baseball team.
To see the controversy, you must know some of the history connected to the water tower.
In 1974, a water tower was built along I-71/75 through Northern Kentucky in anticipation of a new shopping facility. The words “Florence Mall” were painted across the side of the water tower to advertise the coming shopping attraction.
The problem with the water tower was the ‘Highway Beautification Act of 1965’ prevented advertisement of a non-existent entity and the City of Florence was threatened with fines and penalties from the federal government at the time.
Then mayor, C.M. “Hop” Ewing, creatively found a solution by converting the M in ‘Mall’ to a Y and adding an apostrophe. The change gave birth to the famous “Florence Y’all” that is currently displayed on the side of the water tower.
The city avoided penalty at the time.
Once the mall project was complete, they ran into further problems converting the water tower back because the land for the structure now belonged to the city and taxpayer money would need to be used to paint the signage back to “Florence Mall."
No official decision was made by the City of Florence and “Florence Y’all” remained.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the Florence Freedom change their team name to the Florence Y’alls which, in a sense, makes the city-owned water tower a form of free advertising for the Boone County-based team.
Although the existence of the water tower once again predated the existence of the entity the circumstances surrounding the “Florence Y’all” water tower are much different in 2020 than they were in 1974.
FOX19 NOW checked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) about whether or not the water tower would need a new paint job and was told this is a different context and the issues that arose with the water tower in the 1970s are “not applicable."