The team had not updated their logos or jerseys since they were revealed along with the franchise’s name in November, 2015. The team had planned to hold an in-person unveiling celebration leading up to the 2020-21 season, but altered those plans to a virtual release due to ongoing COVID-19 concern.
The start of the upcoming Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs’ and Southern Professional Hockey League season remains uncertain, but they still are shooting for a December kickoff.
One thing for sure: when the date arrives, the Dawgs will be sporting a new look on the ice.
The Dawgs introduced a new logo and redesigned home and away jerseys on Facebook Live Thursday night to give fans the first look at what to expect for the upcoming season and be the first to have the opportunity to purchase their favorite style fans love to wear to Dawgs games.
The new designs quickly garnered rave reviews during the online comment section, and items such as jerseys, shirts, t-shirts, hats and accessories were going fast as Dawgs head coach Dan Bremner and team Vice President for Marketing & Corporate Sales Alexandra Martin played the role of the improvised online runway models.
“We had tossed around the idea of changing the logo and jerseys for several months,” Martin said in a phone interview with The Star on Wednesday. “This is our fifth year and we felt it was time for a new look. These changes are typical in minor league hockey. We knew there were certain elements we wanted to keep, like our mascot, Diesel, and the Roanoke Star, but it was time for a refresh. From a marketing standpoint we wanted to bring it out when people started thinking about hockey and football, rather than the beach.”
The team began the redesign process last December and sought out a local designed, John Comstock of Magnets USA in Vinton, to assist with the new logo creation. Comstock is a huge fan of the team.
“My family and I are huge supporters,” Comstock noted in a team release. “The opportunity to work with the front office on the creation of the new logo has been an amazing experience and a huge honor. I look forward to seeing the boys take the ice in the new uniforms and having a great season.”
Martin noted the release was also made at this time because of the delay in the SPHL season.
“With no games starting in October, that meant our main revenue flow from having games was missing. Now, we’re looking at season ticket sales and merchandise sales to maintain that revenue flow until we get back to playing the games our fans are waiting for.”
The new uniforms include a blue “home” jersey with DAWGS across the chest, gold and white trim, with Roanoke on the sleeves. The road jersey in white will have fan-favorite “Diesel”, the Rail Yard Dawg, wearing an engineer’s cap with a star.
“It’s a simpler logo than before, but basically with the same colors,” Martin pointed out.
All merchandise will soon be available on the team’s website that is undergoing construction to switch to the new designs. It is expected to be completed in the next few days.
The SPHL is still targeting mid-December for a start-up date, and is hopeful of a full 56-game schedule, although no decision has been made on whether the season would be extended past the normal April conclusion or compressed into 56 games within that April time frame.
“We’ll be ready to address that when the decision is made by the SPHL,” Martin said of the season format. “Right now, our target is starting in mid-December. If we have to compress the season and play some games on week nights, we’ll make it work. Obviously, we’d prefer to play on Friday and Saturday nights that draw the largest crowds, but week night games would be better than no games.”
Also, the limitations on fan attendance are still uncertain as the COVID-19 plays out heading into the fall. Minor league hockey is an event-based business that relies on large crowds for its revenue stream.
The team continues to move forward with player signings to solidify its roster for the upcoming campaign.
“This is a solid team and our staff is doing a lot of leg work to prepare for the season,” Martin added. “Our season ticketholders and fan base have shown amazing support through these times.”