The NBL's Hawks want Illawarra back in their name and have challenged the NSW region to get behind them to make it happen.
The foundation club was bought back off the NBL by an ownership group in June that quickly secured the services of esteemed coach Brian Goorjian.
But as part of the purchase the NBL prompted the Hawks to drop Illawarra from their title as they looked to "expand their footprint" across NSW.
The move irked long-time supporters of the cash-strapped club but, after years of sub-par crowds and a flurry of ownership changes, part-owner Dorry Kordahi said they now had a chance to send a message to the NBL.
On Friday he launched the Illawarra Proud campaign, seeking 4379 members and "significant support" from the local business community before the January season tip-off.
"We need to demonstrate to the NBL that this is a long-term, sustainable club and business that deserves to have Illawarra in its name," former Sydney Kings co-owner Kordahi said.
"But we need the support of the Illawarra community to achieve this.
"We are striving for 4379 members, a symbolic number for the club as it represents 43 consecutive seasons in the league since our establishment in 1979."
"In professional sport, no club can be sustainable on just members or corporate support alone.
"We need both to ensure that we are here for another 43 seasons."
NBL owner Larry Kestelman said he "was prepared to consider this request if there is sufficient support from the Illawarra community to make the club a viable proposition into the future in the local market".
"We have the utmost faith in the new owners and their vision ... they have brought back the NBL's most successful coach Brian Goorjian and assembled a talented playing roster for this season," he said.
"However, as the new owners have indicated, the club needs to build a long-term and sustainable future.
"They have set a bold membership target and need the local business community to get behind the foundation club."
Goorjian, the only person to win six NBL championships as a head coach, has taken quickly to his new home after 11 years in China.
"I know how much the people of the Illawarra care about this club and what it stands for," he said.
"It's now time for us all to show the NBL that we have not just a proud history, but a long and sustainable future."