Saturday, 22 July 2017

You're Not Naming Our Team

This port city on the coast of Casco Bay and just a stretch of water away from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia is Portland, Maine. Portland used to have an AHL team called the Pirates, but that team unfortunately no longer exists as the franchise was transferred to Springfield, Massachusetts following poor attendance in Portland. Regardless of what happened in the AHL, the ECHL decided not to pass up an opportunity to expand into a hockey market with rich history, granting an expansion team to Comcast Spectacor to play in Portland in the 2017-18 ECHL season. With that being said, Comcast Spectacor has turned to the public for some help in naming the new franchise!

I'm all for fans naming a team as long as that name is something respectable. For a coastal city like Portland, there could be a number of names that one could choose with a naval theme or a water-themed name and everything would be fine. The other option would be to name the team after something that makes Portland, Maine unique. It could be something from the city's history, a specific point of interest, or something that Portland is known for when speaking about the city. To me, a name like "Mariners" seems appropriate, but may be a little too elementary for this contest.

"We are looking for a team name that connects the team to the area and with the fans; one that best represents Portland, Cumberland County, Southern Maine, and the competitive nature of this region," Danny Briere, Vice President of Hockey Operations for Portland Hockey, said at the press conference on Thursday. "This is Portland's team, and we want Portland to name this team."

And apparently they are dead-set on letting someone from the Portland region name this team. I've taken the liberty of bolding a portion of the statement below, but this is the statement found on the Portland, Maine hockey website.
The winner of the Name the Team contest will win 4 season tickets to the inaugural season, a team signed jersey and participate in the ceremonial puck drop on opening night!

Winner must be 18 years of age and a resident of Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts. Submissions must be made by August 14, 11:59 PM
I guess my "Mariners" name won't be selected unless I decided to move to Maine, New Hampshire, or Massachusetts.

Look, I get that you want a direct connection to fans in your region. There's nothing wrong with building support and community involvement through a "Name the Team" contest, and I wholeheartedly hope that people in that region take an interest and submit names. But why wouldn't they try to include more fans from additional regions who don't have a loyalty to any ECHL team and may find one with this new Portland-based franchise? I don't have any loyalty, and I'd love to win the team-signed jersey. If I won, I'd donate my season tickets to a children's charity in Portland so that more kids could attend games and I'd donate my puck-drop ceremony to that same charity where one of the children and his or her parents could take part in the festivities. If Portland Hockey Incorporated is going to exclude a major part of their fanbase - kids under the age of 18 - with this contest, I'd be more than happy to do my part to get more kids to their games.

I'm not saying that I know a heckuva lot of the history in the Portland area. I'm not saying I know anything about how to run a contest or how to market a hockey franchise. I do know that by excluding kids, the team may be cutting off a vast number of fans, both young and old, who will probably make up a large segment of the team's fanbase by excluding kids from the contest. No one says you have to select nine year-old Johnny's selection for the team name, but at least let the kids play when it comes to something fun like this! The buy-in from kids would be immediate, and that will rub off on their parents who will probably take little Johnny and Jenny to games to see their new team.

Here's hoping the Portland ECHL franchise gets a great name, comes up with amazing jerseys, and finds immediate success on the ice. The fans will play a major part in that success, especially early on when the name is chosen and logo is designed. Remember, Portland fans, Danny Briere told you, "This is Portland's team, and we want Portland to name this team."

But only if you're 18 or older. And live in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. And subscribe to Comcast TV, internet, and every other service they offer. And have voted in the recent election. And have seen a live hockey game in Portland. Anyone else want to place more exclusionary limitations on whose team this really is?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: