The OHL’s entry into the Flint Michigan market is a big move. Ballsy in many people’s opinion.
The demographics for the immediately surrounding area aren’t the best say some people. Others say that its the surrounding suburban area’s that will provide the support needed financially for this team.
One thing that is for sure, no matter where the fan support and corporate financial support comes from, naming the team properly will be critical in its long term success or failure.
The OHL is requiring the proposed name be submitted by the organization no later than this Friday February 20th. Only four short days from now. Four days for what might be the most critical decision the organization will ever make.
While some have suggested the Tropics, or the Stones, neither is likely to end up being the team name and neither has any real significance to the Flint region. Not to mention there may be significant copyright and licensing issues with either name.
Some are suggesting the names of Sparks, Strikers, and others. Sparks would certainly relate to Flint’s long history with the auto industry, and Strikers would as well but with some negative connotations that may come with it.
We have seen what a bad naming campaign can do with the Michigan Warriors. There was absolutely nothing for the Flint area hockey fans or media to identify with. It was in part why the team has failed financially while still doing well in the win and loss columns.
So what is in a name?
Flint started as a lumber town, transformed itself into the auto manufacturing center of the world, was the home of one of the largest spark plug manufacturers in the world and is the home of the Union movement. A lot has happened in Flint over the years both good and bad.
Flint is an area on the rebound. The economy is on the upswing, and people have stopped moving away by the masses.
So how does this team derive its name? Can you look backward for a name while your looking to the future? Can you find something that can look to the future while recognizing the past?
For the outsider, the name means very little. For those from the Flint area, the name means everything. Its no easy spot to be in.
Looking back, Saginaw wasn’t seen as being an ideal location, or having ideal demographics. Many said the OHL would not survive. Saginaw was an economically depressed city, and it was thirteen years ago that Dick Garber signed on to make the OHL work in Saginaw. A car dealer who believed in his market, and said the skeptics would be proven wrong. The people of Saginaw certainly identify with Spirit.
What ever the Flint entry is named, lets hope the Flint area fans can identify, and prove some critics wrong. If Saginaw can do it, Flint certainly can.