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Barons building a brand in Oklahoma City

OKC’s AHL has struggled to draw fans this season despite putting a solid product on the ice. But Bob Funk Jr. and the Edmonton Oilers remain committed to making Triple-A hockey a thriving part of the city’s sports landscape.

By Mike Baldwin Published: April 17, 2013

Most nights this season, there have been more empty red seats than fans attending Oklahoma City Barons games at the Cox Convention Center.

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Oklahoma City is last in the 30-team American Hockey League in attendance. The Barons are averaging around 3,500 fans a game, a slight decline from their first two seasons.

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More to come

In an upcoming series The Oklahoman will take a look at four subjects that will influence whether the Barons can increase attendance in upcoming seasons:

• Thursday: Oklahoma City has evolved. With a popular NBA team and more competition for the entertainment dollar, the Barons face new challenges to attract minor league hockey fans.

• Friday: The Edmonton Oilers, the Barons’ NHL affiliate, are committed to Oklahoma City. Oilers’ officials love the city, the team’s facilities at the Cox Convention Center and living arrangements for its top prospects in Bricktown.

• Saturday: Barons vice president of sales Jon Beilstein, hired nine months ago, was successful in building Grand Rapids into one of the AHL’s top fan bases. Beilstein is confident he can have similar success building a fan base in Oklahoma City.

• Sunday: San Antonio went through a similar CHL-to-AHL transformation. After replacing the CHL Iguanas, San Antonio’s attendance lagged the first five years, but the Rampage is now among the AHL attendance leaders.

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