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Published: Tuesday, 1/8/2008

Walleye, Woodpeckers top teams' name lists

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Of the more than 300 names Toledo Mud Hens officials say they've collected for the city's future minor league hockey and arena football franchises, the Walleye and Woodpeckers appear to be at the forefront.

But if anyone has any more ideas for team names, they can send them along to Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop.

Yesterday Mr. Konop encouraged people to post suggestions on his online Web log or to call his office.

The Mud Hens, which created a not-for-profit organization called Toledo Arena Sports Inc. to own the teams that play in the county's new downtown arena, have sought the rights to the "Walleye" and "Woodpeckers" team names through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

If selected by Toledo Arena Sports, "Walleye" would be the name of the new hockey team - which is to begin play when the arena opens in the fall of 2009.

In addition to "Woodpeckers," filings with the patent and trademark office also show that the Mud Hens are staking claims on "Peckers" and "Peckerheads" for an arena football franchise, which numerous county and arena football officials have confirmed could be coming to Toledo in 2010.

Yesterday Mr. Konop said Walleye and Woodpeckers were names that deserve consideration, but the public should also be able to offer input on the names of teams it will pay to watch.

"What we're looking for is the public to give us input, because it's the public's team," Mr. Konop said. "This is a public arena, and it will be the public's team. The Mud Hens are the team of Lucas County, the team of the people of Lucas County. This hockey team and arena football league team will be the teams of Lucas County."

Toledo Arena Sports, in a statement attributed to no one in particular but distributed by Hens director of public relations Jason Griffin, said: "Sports fans throughout the community have been sending Toledo Arena Sports suggestions for team names for nearly a year now. We are pleased that the interest level has been high and look forward to reviewing all of the suggestions presented, many of which are terrific."

Toledo Arena Sports also said that "name, logo, and mascot development is by far one of the most challenging and rewarding responsibilities of a sports franchise, and should not be taken lightly. We have developed a list of over 300 names for consideration - all names that are indigenous to the area."

Joe Napoli, general manager of the Hens, previously told The Blade that Toledo Arena Sports intended to register other names with the patent and trademark office.

There is also the matter of clearing team names with the leagues.

Commissioners for the ECHL and the Arena Football League 2 - the leagues which Toledo's eventual hockey and arena football teams would play in, respectively - both said their offices work with franchises on naming rights.

Arena Football League commissioner Jerry Kurz said the league has a committee to make sure a proposed team name doesn't infringe on copyrights or is offensive.

When asked what he thought of "Woodpeckers," which some fear could spawn offensive nicknames, Mr. Kurz said: "I've been surprised over the years. I've been correct in some of my thoughts and wrong with some of my thoughts. I can say that I've never ever said an outright 'no' to a team name."

Brian McKenna, the ECHL's commissioner, said his league office only works to make sure its hockey franchises aren't choosing team names owned by someone else. Mr. McKenna said he has not had discussions with Toledo Arena Sports about a name yet, but expects to have that talk this spring.

Mr. Konop said he hoped both team names would be selected and announced in the next six to 12 months.

Those interested in submitting names online can do so by going to http://apps.co.lucas.oh.us/lcblog.

Contact Joe Vardon at: jvardon@theblade.com or 419-410-5055.



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