By Mark Reiter
Blade Staff Writer
In a few years, area sports fans could be heading to the downtown arena to watch the Walleye play hockey and the Woodpeckers play football.
The trademark rights for those names have been sought by the Toledo Mud Hens, according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Mud Hens will operate teams in the multipurpose Toledo arena, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009.
The walleye is popular among fishermen who head to the Maumee River each spring hoping to catch the fish as they swim upstream to spawn.
Filings with the patent and trademark office also show that the Mud Hens are staking claims on “Woodpeckers” and its deviations — “Peckers” and “Peckerheads”— for an arena football franchise.
So far, the only tenant lined up for the Lucas County-owned arena is a minor league hockey team. A not-for-profit organization created by the Hens acquired the rights to the Toledo Storm, a minor league hockey franchise that occupied the former Toledo Sports Arena from 1991 until the spring of 2007.
Hens officials have acknowledged that they are trying to secure a new arena football franchise as a tenant. They have also said discussions were held with National Basketball Association officials to bring a developmental-league team to the city.
Mud Hens general manager Joe Napoli said walleye and woodpecker are on a short list of names under consideration for the franchises.
“We have the intentions of registering some other names as well,” he said.
The Hens organization submitted approval of the name for the minor league hockey team with the patent office in May, 2005. The paperwork for the arena team name began last May. All the applications are pending.
Mr. Napoli said the trademark requests will act as safeguards to protect the use of the name if they are chosen for the franchises.
The domain www.toledo-walleye.com has been secured by the Mud Hens for a potential Web site. It was unclear yesterday whether domains for other franchises that would play in the arena have been established.
Lucas County commissioner Ben Konop said the process of naming the teams should involve the community.
“We will have more public input. I think this is for the fans and the public. It is their team, and it will be their arena,” he said.
Nicknames of previous Toledo hockey teams have included the Mercurys (1947-62), Buckeyes (1949-50), Blades (1963-70), Hornets (1970-74), and Goaldiggers (1974-86).