It was announced today that the Oklahoma City Barons, the AHL farm team of the Edmonton Oilers, will no longer be in operation come the end of 2014-15.
The Barons, who are currently first place in the Western Conferences West Division by four points, are doing little to draw fans and Prodigal CEO Bob Funk, Jr. told The Oklahoman it was simply a business decision.
“At this particular point the market isn’t as accepting as we’d like,” Funk told The Oklahoman. “But maybe at some point in the future it will be more accepting which is why we’ll always keep the door open.”
Oklahoma City currently draws the fifth lowest attendance in the league, a mere 3,219 per game, which is down from the 3,348 they drew last season. Even during the 2013-14 playoffs, in which the Barons hosted two contests, the average draw was just over 1,500 fans, not near enough to survive. The team was in the bottom five of attendance in each of its past four seasons.
According to The Oklahoman, the Barons were facing a deadline of Dec. 31, by which time they had to tell city officials whether they intended to keep operating at Oklahoma’s Cox Convention Center.
“Oklahoma City is a great market,” Funk told The Oklahoman. “At (AHL) meetings other owners told me other players love playing in Oklahoma City and encouraged me that we were trying everything they could think. A lot of them scratched their heads why we weren’t having more success.”
From Funk’s comments, it’s clear that Funk wishes to keep a team in Oklahoma City, but the costs, some of which they had hoped the Oilers may have been able to absorb, were too much.
Funk stated he’ll continue to monitor the market in an attempt to bring hockey back to Oklahoma City.