“It took (San Antonio) five years to turn it around,” Beilstein said. “I absolutely look at this the same way. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to be done the right way? Yes.”
Snider wasn't with the organization during the Rampage's early years but was told there was some backlash from Iguanas fans similar to what Oklahoma City is experiencing with Blazers fans.
“It takes time for people to trust the new product,” Snider said. “You have to grow a new fan base, which takes time. You're seeing Oklahoma City use a lot of the same principles we implemented, which will pay off in the long run.”
The Spurs own the Rampage. Even though the Barons are owned locally, Funk said challenges the two franchises have faced are similar.
“San Antonio dug themselves out of a serious hole,” Funk said. “It's going to take us awhile to dig out. But I think we can definitely follow the San Antonio model. They're doing very well.”
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A look at the Barons
This is the final story in a four-part series examining issues that have affected Barons' attendance and the franchise's plan moving forward:
Thursday: With an elite NBA team and two prominent Division I programs the Barons are attempting to sell Triple-A hockey in a highly competitive market.
Friday: The Edmonton Oilers, the Barons' NHL affiliate, are committed to Oklahoma City. Oiler officials love the city, facilities and player living arrangements in Bricktown.
Saturday: Barons' vice president of sales Jon Beilstein, hired nine months ago after a successful run in Grand Rapids, is confident he can have similar success in Oklahoma City.
Sunday: San Antonio went through a similar CHL to AHL transformation 10 years ago. Attendance lagged the first five years but now is among AHL attendance leaders.