A COVID-19-friendly sized crowd gathered at Serauxmen stadium last night as the Nanaimo NightOwls were officially born.

The team’s general manager, Jim Swanson, said they received more than 100 name submissions from the community, but the NightOwls name won them over for its significance in the harbour city.

“In 1921, the Nanaimo Owls, a historic baseball team started a dynasty run. They won three out of four years in kind of the regional league, it was called the Nanaimo City League,” said Swanson.

The “Night” part of the name is a tribute to local government for adding lights and other improvements to Serauxmen stadium.

“The NightOwls is a way for us to thank the City of Nanaimo and recognize them for the work they’ve put in,” said Swanson.

Local First Nations and politicians were also on hand to show their support of the new name, look and logo, which includes a special Nanaimo bar-themed jersey worn for matinee match-ups.

“How can you not have fun with it? This is minor league-type baseball and we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we try to have fun every moment of the day that we can,” said Swanson.

Swanson says they will also be selling the famous treat at home games and hope to bring them on the road for opposing fans to enjoy.

The evening also saw the reveal of their mascot “Neyte (pronounced “Nate”) the NightOwl”. The name is an homage to former Nanaimo Mayor Frank Ney.

The Nanaimo NightOwls will be the thirteenth organization in the West Coast League. The summer development league is made up of NCAA College players from all over North America. Swanson, who also runs the Victoria Harbourcats, hopes to have as many locals on the roster as possible while staying competitive.

“My perfect world, wearing the two hats that I have, I would love to have the HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls meet in the playoffs year after year and see who has to go in the final from there. That to me would be the ideal situation and we’re going to work very hard to make both teams very good.”

If all goes well with the COVID-19 situation, the NightOwls will officially take to the field in June 2021.

Kevin Charach