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OKC Barons: Prime playoff dates are hard to come by for Barons

Ideally, the Barons would host American Hockey League playoff games on weekend dates, but the Cox Convention Center is booked for seven graduation days this month, including five weekend dates.
by Michael Baldwin Published: May 12, 2013
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photo - Tyler Pitlick with the Oklahoma City Barons eyes the puck beside Tyler Ruegsegger of the Abbotsford Heat during an AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 19, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Tyler Pitlick with the Oklahoma City Barons eyes the puck beside Tyler Ruegsegger of the Abbotsford Heat during an AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 19, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Pomp and circumstance marches are a May tradition. Graduation ceremonies are milestone events.

For the Oklahoma City Barons, though, May brings the challenges of selling playoff tickets.

Ideally, the Barons would host American Hockey League playoff games on weekend dates, but the Cox Convention Center is booked for seven graduation days this month, including five weekend dates. Every April, the FAA is among of a handful of other events that book weekend dates at the Cox Center.

“We're at the mercy of the facility,” said Prodigal CEO Bob Funk, Jr., who runs the Triple-A team for the Edmonton Oilers. “We just don't get the availability that we'd like to have.”

This weekend, Oklahoma City Community College is holding graduation ceremonies Friday night at the Cox Center. Three Edmond high schools have the building booked all day Saturday. Putnam City North and Deer Creek will hold graduation ceremonies on Sunday.

The FAA every year has a weekend booked in April, which usually coincides with the first round of the AHL playoffs.

In even numbered years the Oklahoma Dental Association holds a convention downtown that coincides with the marathon, which eliminates potential hockey dates.

“Part of the purpose that building is for public service,” said SMG general manager Gary Desjardins, who runs Chesapeake Arena and the Cox Convention Center. “We have empathy for the Barons. They are a resident tenant. The Barons have been really good about understanding. We try to make it work as best we can.”

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled years in advance. Contracts usually are signed the previous summer, 10 months in advance. That's part of the reason why the Barons are stuck with home playoff games this week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Barons have made the playoffs all three seasons. But there's no guarantee they'll play beyond the end of the regular season in mid-April.

“We understand that,” Funk said. “It's really more frustrating because of the unpredictability of it. If we want, we have the capability of moving (ceremonies), but there are some financial issues that go with that.”

The Barons can negotiate to move graduation ceremonies across the street to Chesapeake Arena. But when they go that route the school must agree to move to Chesapeake.

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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