It was udder madness when the Columbus Mad Cows came to life for a single event on Halloween night, Friday, October 31, 1997, as part of a unique and legendary “bait and switch” promotion by the Columbus Chill team president David Paitson.
To bolster interest in the Opening Night date of Halloween, customarily a tough night to draw sports consumers given traditional beggar night activities, the Chill leveraged the excitement of the launch of the new NHL expansion franchise and its highly-anticipated team nickname announcement that was to take place a few weeks later in mid-November.
The 'Mad Cows' name was borrowing from The Other Paper’s spoof recommending the Mad Cows as a play on the city’s then perceived cow town image. On the Monday of game week, the Chill announced that a team name change would be unveiled on Thursday afternoon, one day prior to the Friday Opening Night game. By refusing to disclose any additional information prior to the press conference, media speculation ran rampant on the assumption the NHL expansion team would take the Chill name. Instead, the Chill would discard their normal home uniform and, in Halloween tradition, make a “costume change” bearing the Mad Cow logo on the black and white spotted jerseys. The media took the gag in stride, realizing this was just the Chill being the Chill, and the fans embraced the moment, many dressing up in their own costumes reflecting the evening's theme. The media frenzy had sparked interest in the game and as a result another packed Coliseum, renamed for one night only as “the Meadow of Doom”. The Chill were victorious with a 2-0 win over the Johnstown Chiefs in front of another sellout crowd. And the 'Mad Cows' named lived on in Columbus lore for years to come.