BLOOMINGTON - Those looking to name the hockey team that will call the U.S. Cellular Coliseum home ice, have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit their entries.
But if you've been toying with the Blaze, the Agents, the Blades, the Twins or the Prairie Dogs, those names have already been suggested.
More than 1,100 entries have been collected by The Pantagraph and Coliseum management staff since the contest began Jan. 15.
The number of entries sends a message about the Coliseum, said Beau Bradle, director of sales and marketing for Coliseum managers Central Illinois Arena Management.
"The community is excited about not only hockey but the Coliseum as well," Bradle said. "We had a good feeling we would get a lot of names but I don't think we could have ever expected the response we've gotten so far."
The "Name the Team" contest has been one of The Pantagraph's more popular contests, said Marketing Services Manager Jonell Kehias.
"From the entries we've received so far, I'm getting a sense a lot of them are from children," Kehias said. "It's great to see the kids getting involved in this contest."
Nearly all the entries reflect a part of the community and area pride. The Railers, with an Abe Lincoln dressed in full hockey gear, is a nod to the community's ties to the president known for making split-rail fences. Names such as the Express and Combines reflect the community's railroad and farming ties and the Twin Cities' two universities get a mention with the suggested name the Majors. Even the Blaze according to one entry gets its inspiration from the 1900 fire that leveled downtown Bloomington.
"Everyone is very proud of Bloomington-Normal and it is apparent that they want to bring out every part of it," Kehias said. "In names such as the Harvest, the 66ers and the Adjusters there is a real sense of pride in the community."
Some names such as the Red Inks, the Witz and the Judy's also reflect some of the controversy surrounding the Bloomington City Council's decision to build the $37 million arena in downtown and former Mayor Judy Markowitz who spear-headed the effort.
The hockey team will start its season in October. Choosing a name the community can be proud of, Bradle said, will help identify the team and the community during play in the United Hockey League.
Entries received in the contest will be narrowed down to three choices by a panel from The Pantagraph and Central Illinois Arena Management. The three names will be published in The Pantagraph and the community will have an opportunity to vote on their favorite.
The contest winner will receive two season tickets for the 2006-07 hockey season, a team-signed game jersey and the opportunity to "present the puck" at one of the games.
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