TORONTO — Everywhere Jeff Hunt goes this Grey Cup Week, he hears one question over and over.
What are you going to call your team?
That will be answered soon enough with Hunt’s Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group preparing to launch a Name the Team campaign. And it won’t be most votes win.
“Whatever creative ideas are out there will come at us rapid fire,” said Hunt. “Within the next two weeks, I’d expect we’ll have this out in the public eye. And rather than telling me at a cocktail party, people can submit a name formally. You wouldn’t want to drag something like this out over a month. It’s a top-of-the-mind item and it will be good to put it to bed.
“I almost imagine a giant white board in my office and our group along with our branding company, as names are suggested, either say yeah, that’s a name to be seriously suggested or a name to be quickly eliminated.
“No doubt, we’ll ultimately come down to a top three or top five. It’s not necessarily a straight-on contest where you vote and the name with the most votes win. But certainly fan popularity would be a major consideration to any name.
“We’ll evolve to that one name that seems to resonate to everybody and feels like a winner. Obviously 99.9% of the suggestions, we’re not going to accept, but they’re still valuable to the process.”
Hunt said he’s heard plenty of unique names, many with historical significance, many others using an R or RR.
“Red Raiders, Rough Raiders, I’ve heard a lot of suggestions,” said Hunt. “I think I’ve heard every combination of R or RR.
“What you’d hate to think is the year after you come out with your name, somebody comes out with a name and you go: ‘Whoa, I wish we’d thought of that name.’ I think the chance of that happening is nil because people have been thinking about this really since 2008 when we got the franchise back.”
One name it won’t be is Rough Riders. It was a condition of Ottawa rejoining the league that the Saskatchewan Roughriders would remain unique.
“Any name we pick is going to sound a little foreign initially,” said Hunt. “I’m not naive enough to think we’re going to pick a name that has a 100% high rate of approval.
“There’s going to be an adjustment period while people get used to it — just like when the Renegades came out. As a fan, when I heard the name Renegades, it just didn’t seem right because I’d only known Rough Riders. But after a while Renegades rolled off the tongue, even though it doesn’t bring the greatest of memories.
“We have 16 or 17 months before we take to the field and I’m hoping that in that time people will embrace the name we choose and hopefully get used to it.”