New Haven shoemaker Otto Hints designed the first football cleats in the late 1880s.

Now the arrival of arenafootball2 brings another football first to the Elm City: the New Haven Ninjas.

Arena football is an indoor version of football known for its fast pace and hard hitting. The New Haven team will play eight home games between April and July at the New Haven Coliseum.

Yesterday afternoon, team officials draped the new logo over the roof of the Coliseum’s unused parking garage helix at the intersection of North Frontage Road and State Street. About half a dozen people attended the disorganized press conference.

No other professional franchise is named Ninjas, said Mike Picker, vice president of Ninja’s operations.

“The name reflects a lot of what two-way ironman football is all about,” said Lisa Audi, Coliseum general manager. “You have to be a warrior to play the game.”

Ninjitsu is the ancient Japanese art of stealth dating to the seventh century, according to a team brochure. Ninjas, those who practiced Ninjitsu, were respected and often feared for their abilities.

The Ninjas are the minor league affiliate of the Arena Football League’s New York Dragons. Charles Wang, the owner of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders, also operates the Ninjas.

Over 280 people suggested names in a contest managed by the New Haven Register. Officials from the Islanders and the Dragons narrowed the list to five: Cyclones, Gladiators, Hawkeyes, Ninjas and ShoreDawgs. Fans voting on the Coliseum Web site selected Ninjas.

Team officials have narrowed the list of potential coaches to four, said Todd Degree, a Ninjas representative.

–Marc Wiznia