Flint’s OHL team still awaits identity



FLINT — When the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League relocate to Flint’s Perani Arena following the current season, the team will be re-branded with a new identity. What that will be is yet to be announced, but it appears that the name, logo, color scheme and uniform design have already been chosen. The deadline to submit that criteria to the league was last Friday.

“We are just delayed a bit,” said Costa Papista, Director of Hockey Operations Tuesday morning. “We are waiting for legal and league clearance.”

Rolf Nilsen, owner, has filed several names with the OHL including Flint Tropics, Flint Fury, Flint Firebirds, Flint Sparks, Flint Force, Flint Spark Plugs, Flint Vikings, Flint Nationals, Flint Pride and Flint United.

There has been a bit of controversy surrounding several of the names, most notably the Flint Tropics. It hasn’t become clear what the legal ramifications will be if the team is named after the team in Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro, but it looks to only be supported by people who aren’t from the area. Area residents seem adamantly opposed to the name.

Flint Fury may also bring along some legal issues, as that is already the name of a semi-pro football team in the Great Lakes Football League. The GLFL franchise has had the rights to the name since 2003.

Regardless of what the franchise’s identity will be, things are looking up when it comes to attendance. Although many in the hockey world are critical of Flint having an OHL team because of the lack of support for the North American Hockey League’s Michigan Warriors, the Detroit Red Wings-Flint Generals alumni game two weeks ago should put a stop to that talk.

The arena was completely sold out; not even a standing room ticket was available. Granted it was because of the names on the ice, but the kids who will be suiting up for Flint come September are on the fast track to the National Hockey League.

Aside from all of that, though, one of the bigger projects that will need to be done by the 2015-16 OHL season is upgrading Perani Arena, while in great shape for its age, just isn’t good enough to host an OHL franchise in its current condition, so upgrades will be a requirement.

That will likely mean a large chunk of cash from the new ownership group to upgrade the bathrooms, locker rooms, parking lots, media area, glass and dasher boards and a few other things around the arena. They also have to bring in the amenities to be able to do television broadcasts for each game. Media platforms are on the short list of things to bring back to the seating areas.

Not only does the OHL have video review, which will require an extensive upgrade in technical equipment for the media area, but the league also has live games broadcast on the NHL Network and several Canadian sports’ stations, including TSN and SportsNet.

Unofficially, though, the brand of the team is expected to be announced in the next week.

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