“We're aging out of the hockey demo that's traditionally been here in Oklahoma City,” Funk said. “They started back in the '60s and '70s and started coming back in the '90s (with the Blazers). Those fans can only live so long. Some of them retire or move out of state.
“We've seen attrition from our Blazers season seat holders and our overall fan base. Now we have to actively recruit people in their 20s, 30s and 40s and their families. We're essentially attempting to grow a whole new base of hockey fans probably in one of the most challenging times.”
During the Barons' first season, Funk hired a marketing research company to measure hockey interest in Oklahoma City. Results indicated 200,000 people within a 50-mile radius like hockey.
“They've identified how big the market is for hockey,” said OKC special events manager Tom Anderson. “They have it down to the ZIP code. They know what their target demographic is. Prodigal is in it for long-term stability, but everyone would like the end result to be accelerated.”
Barons coach Todd Nelson is from Canada where a community's hockey team is their version of the Thunder, Cowboys or Sooners.
“The Thunder and OU and OSU football always are going to be boss here,” Nelson said. “But I've discovered when people do come to a game they enjoy it. We have a great base of hockey die-hards here. We just need to expand that.”