View Full Version : Ice Hockey: Revive our Oklahoma City Blazers for the ECHL.



Laramie
03-25-2017, 07:10 PM
Tulsa Ice Oilers vs. Oklahoma City Blazers


Two sisters going head-to-head, clawing, biting, scratching & pulling hair & teeth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEHNsKp36RY
Oklahoma City & Tulsa had the most fierce minor league turnpike rivalry between any two cities within the United States.


The Blazers could use the Cox Convention Center Arena or co-exist with the NBA Thunder @ the Chesapeake Energy Arena with use of the lower level.

Oklahoma City will eclipse 1.4 million people in our metropolitan area come 2020. A well-rounded schedule of events; which includes seasonal sports NBA, ECHL, USL, PCL (basketball, ice hockey, soccer & baseball).

Our city will be ready to support Oklahoma City Thunder (major league basketball), Oklahoma City Blazers (AA ice hockey), Oklahoma City Energy FC (Div., II) and Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA baseball); this will make our city achieve the highest level of pro sports for a city & metro area of our size.

OKCretro
03-25-2017, 09:15 PM
I don't see the city or the thunder would like the idea of sharing an arena with a Double A hockey franchise.
You can probably generate more money in concerts and monster truck rallies than double a hockey.

_Kyle
03-25-2017, 10:35 PM
They could play at the new state fair arena, and eventually pave the way for an NHL franchise.

Laramie
03-26-2017, 12:16 PM
They could play at the new state fair arena, and eventually pave the way for an NHL franchise.

Thanks Kyle, the new state fair arena would be another option; initial design has 7,000 chair back seats at the lower level with retractable bleachers in the upper deck to accommodate 4,000. A nice future home for the OKC Blue (NBADL).

Los Angeles Staples Center (AEG--Anschutz Entertainment Group) manages a schedule matrix for 3 major professional franchises:


2 NBA franchises (Lakers/Clippers)
1 NHL franchise (Kings)
1 AFL franchise (Avengers--arena football league)
1 WNBA franchise (Sparks)

Just don't buy into the premise that the Chesapeake Energy Arena (SMG managed) couldn't figure out how to accommodate an NBA & an ECHL AA hockey franchise. The Thunder has first rights to the Peake; however, they don't own the arena; Thunder received naming-rights revenue, a sweetheart deal.

OKC has a number of facilities to handle concerts:


Civic Center Music Hall, 2500
Cox Convention Center Arena, 15,000
State Fair Arena, 12,000

Also there are private & college owned facilities inside the city:


Criterion Concert Hall 4,000
Chevy Events Center 2000
OCU Abe Lemons Arena 3,500

The above list doesn't include the facilities in Moore, Norman, Edmond, Yukon & Midwest City.

drinner-okc
03-26-2017, 12:52 PM
You're forgetting about SMG. Lured by the promise OKC would get the big name concerts and events if they joined the group, they signed away control of ALL of the venues that can now or ever could freeze the floor. I don't know how much longer they have control, but I don't see Hockey here in that period. I know how much costs went up when the Blazers moved from the Myriad to the new arena. The team also lost all percentages of concessions.
Doubtful a team could make it on ticket sales only.

_Kyle
04-05-2017, 05:27 PM
You're forgetting about SMG. Lured by the promise OKC would get the big name concerts and events if they joined the group, they signed away control of ALL of the venues that can now or ever could freeze the floor. I don't know how much longer they have control, but I don't see Hockey here in that period. I know how much costs went up when the Blazers moved from the Myriad to the new arena. The team also lost all percentages of concessions.
Doubtful a team could make it on ticket sales only.
Which ones did they sign away?

Laramie
04-05-2017, 07:22 PM
You're forgetting about SMG. Lured by the promise OKC would get the big name concerts and events if they joined the group, they signed away control of ALL of the venues that can now or ever could freeze the floor. I don't know how much longer they have control, but I don't see Hockey here in that period. I know how much costs went up when the Blazers moved from the Myriad to the new arena. The team also lost all percentages of concessions.
Doubtful a team could make it on ticket sales only.

SMG manages many venues throughout the country; therefore it's easy for them to book a group; then string them throughout cities on the SMG circuit. Oklahoma, they manage the BOK Center & the Cox CC in Tulsa and Chesapeake Arena, Cox CC, State Fair Arena & Civic Center Music Hall in OKC.

When the Blazers moved to the new arena they became the main tenant until OKC obtained an NHL or NBA team; upon acquiring one of those major league franchises--NBA got first rights on scheduling dates. Blazers knew that the new downtown arena would grant anchor tenant privileges to the high profile NHL or NBA. SMG does get a percent of concessions; the first NHL or NBA team did receive arena 'naming rights.'

The Blazers needed to average 6,500 to break even in Ford Center. They knew it would be difficult to compete with an NBA franchise .

kwhey
04-07-2017, 07:25 AM
It's not happening. Pro ice hockey is unfortunately dead in this town.

OKCretro
04-07-2017, 09:48 PM
It's not happening. Pro ice hockey is unfortunately dead in this town.

if its "dead" who killed it?

Laramie
04-08-2017, 12:02 PM
It's not happening. Pro ice hockey is unfortunately dead in this town.

A new arena is planned to replace the antiquated State Fair Arena; OKC will be in a good position to welcome hockey back to the city around 2020.

OKCTalk (New State Fair Arena) http://www.okctalk.com/showthread.php?t=42468

The current bond package that is being framed by the council to go before the voters in the Fall could possibly list a new arena & completion of the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on the ballot of bond capital improvement projects. The Fair Board Trust does have an alternative plan to fund a the new arena without in the event it's not on upcoming the bond package.

2017 Bond Election: https://www.okc.gov/residents/2017-bond-election

The arena will get built--without a new arena the city stands to lose a bulk of its rodeos & trade shows that occupy a year round schedule in our current arena. Lost of those events will affect restaurants & hotels along with the sales tax revenue generated from those events.

Laramie
05-24-2017, 12:33 PM
Good read in today's Oklahoman by Berry Tramel: Could hockey return to Oklahoma City?


Why did hockey leave? Why hasn't it returned?

The reasons are many. And debated. Is there a place to play? Is there corporate support in a market dominated by the Thunder? Is there widespread desire for hockey?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | by Berry Tramel

Dan Overland's father might have been the first sponsor of Oklahoma City's hockey renaissance. Back in 1992, Darrell Overland walked into the Blazers' offices in the old Century Center when the shingle was barely hung, ordered season tickets and signed up his telecommunications company to be a corporate sponsor.

The Blazers became a fixture not only in Oklahoma City, but also in the Overland family. Longtime coach Doug Sauter eventually served as a pallbearer at the funerals of both Darrell Overland and his wife.

Dan Overland would like to see hockey return. “There's a place and time for a blue-collar sport like that, that's kind of in the budget of everybody,” Overland said. But he's not sure hockey would work again. “I don't know. The city would certainly have to rally around it.”

OKC, once the nation's hottest minor league hockey market, has gone two full years without pro hockey. The Blazers of the Central Hockey League lasted until 2009, then the Barons of the American Hockey League played from 2010-15.

Why did hockey leave? Why hasn't it returned?

The reasons are many. And debated. Is there a place to play? Is there corporate support in a market dominated by the Thunder? Is there widespread desire for hockey?

“I think the biggest impediment is the appetite for hockey in the state of Oklahoma,” said Bob Funk Jr., whose family owned the Blazers for part of their run and the Barons for all five years. “Not for people to pay and go watch ... actually operating a team that they'll go pay to watch and pay the appropriate ticket price? I don't think the demand exists any longer.”

OKC certainly has changed since the Blazers' heyday of the 1990s. And it's not just the Thunder. Entertainment options galore exist, particularly downtown and Bricktown.

The passion for the Blazers decreased in the 2000s; the Funk family eventually tried the higher-classification AHL, which brought in much better players but much more travel costs, which required higher ticket prices. The Barons did not take root at all. Funk's Prodigal Sports now runs the OKC Energy of the United Soccer League.

But some still say minor league hockey, played on the low end, with regional rivalries and low ticket prices, would work and that Blazermania could be replicated.

“Not only could it be replicated, but it's desirable,” said Bob Hammack, an OKC advertising executive who was involved with Blazer campaigns. “Not every family in Oklahoma can pay $300 or $400 and go see the Thunder. If we're going to have professional sports, let's make them accessible.” For the Blazers, “for $8.50 or $9, you could buy a ticket and a bottle of beer. Can't do that at a Thunder game. For the great mass of people, the ticket prices are very problematic.”

No doubt. But even some die-hard fans wonder if interest in hockey could be restored.

“I think minor league hockey is behind us,” said Mike Ketcherside, an executive with MTM Recognition and a Blazer fan from way back. “The NHL, I certainly would like to see that. I think the minor league hockey days, it was what Oklahoma City needed at the time. But I don't think it would work now. I think we've moved on. Certainly the Thunder changed everything. It was great while it lasted. It had its place and it had its time.”

Brad Lund certainly thinks hockey still has a place in OKC and thinks this is the time. But the longtime Blazers general manager knows there's a venue problem.

The Thunder controls the dates for not only Chesapeake Arena, where the NBA plays, but the Cox Center, which houses the Thunder's D-League team, the Blue. The basketball schedules don't come out until August each year. Hockey leagues generally produce their schedules in late spring.

“I want to bring the Blazers back,” Lund said. “I think the interest is there.”

But Lund said an East Coast Hockey League franchise investigated moving to OKC a year ago and found too few dates at either arena.

Even if the Thunder relinquished control of dates at the Cox Center, that building's future is murky, since a new convention center is planned for south of Chesapeake Arena.

Would State Fair Arena work? Well, ice-making infrastructure would have to be funded, and State Fair Arena is planned for replacement, too, and it stays packed with horse shows anyway. Seems like a dubious investment for the city.

What works best is a smaller arena — 6,000 to 7,500 seats — where a hockey team could control the dates and concessions. That would give a franchise a fighting chance at success. But who has the money to build a 7,500-seat arena?

Maybe the only solution might be if the Thunder would be interested in owning a hockey franchise — the NBA Spurs own the hockey Rampage of the AHL — but there's no apparent reason why the Thunder owners would want to take on hockey.

Which leaves passionate hockey fans wondering if it will ever return and wondering if it even should.

“I'd love to see it,” said Greg Witt, a Blazer die-hard from the early days. “I just don't know if it would happen. There's too many places fighting for that dollar. I'm not so sure it could survive economically.”

Neither does Funk.

“That's not just the Thunder,” Funk said. “It's who we are as a city. I just don't think the appetite exists. Couple that with the competition, couple that with the facility. It lasted for awhile, then we as a market, our tastes just changed and we moved on.”--May 24, 2017, Oklahoman


# # #

My personal view: The Wichita & Tulsa rivalries would draw crowds in the 6,000 plus range on a weekend night. Brad Lund, who knows the OKC market better than anyone would be the person who could revive ice hockey to its glory days of the Blazers with a competitive team on the ice.

Oklahoma City is on the verge of transition to top-notch entertainment that cities like Nashville & Charlotte now enjoy; these cities support NFL and NHL/NBA franchises. They obtained & supported two major league franchises when their metropolitan areas reached approximately 1.5 million. The safe support formula for a major league franchises is 1 million metro population per sport. We could see Major League Soccer (MLS) become reality around 2022. MLS only needs 500,000 above 1 million with cities who have one major league sport (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL).

Kansas City (MLB, NHL, MLS) 2,104,509, & Salt Lake City (NBA, MLS) 1,186,187 are the exceptions to the 1 million population rule. These cities enjoy high incomes for cities of their sizes.

The NBA Thunder has shown us a taste of the big league market. OKC does support the PCL Dodgers (6,100) & the OKC Energy FC (5,000) which are a step below the big leagues.

Unfortunately, hockey on the AA minor league level would be a risky investment for Oklahoma City.

Roger S
05-24-2017, 01:25 PM
I'd love to see someone do this and be successful but there is hockey to be found here already if it never happens.

Blazers still play at the Blazer's Ice Center and do very well in their league and the OU Sooners and UCO Bronchos both have club teams that play here... Sooner's are a consistent Top 10 ranked team coached by Peter Arvinitis (Former Blazer) and the Broncho's just won their 2nd National Championship in March..... When the Sooners and Bronchos play their games against each other both of the centers they play at are standing room only.

aDark
05-24-2017, 03:17 PM
Surely there are some polls which could be done, or have been done, to test support for hockey. We should look for evidence of interest before seeking to spread our small market's support into too many avenues.

benjico
05-25-2017, 09:24 AM
Brad Lund, who knows the OKC market better than anyone would be the person who could revive ice hockey to its glory days of the Blazers with a competitive team on the ice.
.

He sure knew the market better than anyone when he ran Rayo straight into the ground.

Laramie
05-25-2017, 08:35 PM
He sure knew the market better than anyone when he ran Rayo straight into the ground.

It takes time to market & promote a team in a suburban area against a rival established USL franchise with a two year head start operations nestled in the core of OKC. To my understanding, Rayo OKC had a very impressive & expensive player personnel payroll.

It was rumored that Lund's group Sold Out Strategies had exhausted a lot of personnel & resources into the promotion & marketing of the club; also the franchise was hemorrhaging money (see Oklahoman inner link below).


At the same time as Sold Out Strategies departure, the team also saw a change at head coach. Alen Marcina resigned last week, and was replaced by Gerard Nus. Entering this week, Rayo OKC was averaging 4,416 fans per game, good enough for seventh in the 12-team NASL.

http://soccerstadiumdigest.com/2016/08/sold-out-strategies-departs-rayo-okc/ Inner link: http://newsok.com/article/5512691

Rayo finished the season with an average attendance 3,242 10th in the 12 team league ahead of Edmonton & Fort Lauderdale.

Source: http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?p=8333

benjico, there's probably more angles to this situation than we may ever know.

worthy cook
05-26-2017, 11:08 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if NHL comes before anything else, even though I think that is a long shot. I think the Thunder have spoiled us with top tier talent, and we have no problem paying to see it. Minor league baseball aside, I think this is why the barons and to some level the Energy (although nowhere near level of barons) have had trouble selling out. It was no surprise that during the NHL lockout year and many of the Oilers came down to the barons, that that was their best stretch of attendance. The NHL has a handful of teams whose futures are uncertain (Coyotes, Hurricanes, Panthers) so I see no problem with at least talking to those franchises to gauge any interest. But like I said, very small chance of happening. Too many good cities in line: Quebec City, Kansas City, Portland, Houston, Hamilton

Laramie
05-26-2017, 01:55 PM
Kansas City has offered free rent to any NHL or NBA team willing to relocate to the Sprint Center. The concern with K. C. is that the major league sports market is over-saturated (MLB, NFL & MLS) . Kansas City's metro population is estimated (2016) to be 2,104,509. If you use the safe franchise support rule; one million per major league sport & 500,000 for MLS, KC market would be very risky for another sport on the level of NHL or NBA.

As for the NHL in OKC; both seasons overlap, also the corporate support here doesn't have the numbers to support NBA & NHL concurrently.

What about the NFL (Sept - January?); it would be popular in our football savvy state, its season engulfs much of the NBA's (Nov-Apr); although it would be state & regionally supported (OKC-TUL-WICHITA, North Texas).

OKC would need at lease 1,800,000 metro population with 4.3 million state; NFL would need a ton of state corporate Fortune 1,000 sponsors on the level of ONEOK, BOK, Williams, NGL, Devon, Chesapeake, OG&E, Loves, Paycom, BankFirst, Continental Resources level. NFL would cut into OU sponsorship. We're 15-20 years from thinking about the NFL or MLB.

A bear bones minimum NFL domed stadium would soar to $2 billion by then. OU probably would be willing to lease Memorial Stadium on a short term basis--less than 5 years, provided a future stadium finance plan; that would exhaust MAPS for a good 5 - 7 years.

MLS is more of where we should focus our next major league sport.

So, wouldn't hope for NHL, NFL or MLB for now.