Oklahoma City received more nays than ayes when United States Hockey League owners voted on expansion for the 1991-92 season, The Oklahoman learned Tuesday night.
John Perpich, spokesman for a group interested in bringing a franchise to Oklahoma City, said four days of meetings ended Sunday night in Rochester, Minn., with owners deciding to stand pat with 10 teams currently in the developmental league.
"The owners assessed where the league was at this time, and their decision was not to expand," Perpich said from his Big Rapids, Mich., home. "I don't know all the details, but I think traveling costs for the other teams were a concern."
Bobby Burkett of Oklahoma City, Bill Levins of Oklahoma City and Monty Miron of Tulsa joined Perpich in trying to bring the state capital its first minor-league team since the Central Hockey League's Oklahoma City Stars folded in 1982. The foursome began the venture after the city's positive response to hockey during the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Perpich coached one of the festival teams.
"It's disappointing, there's no question," Perpich said. "At this point and time, I guess it wasn't in the cards."
Burkett, who was also involved in festival hockey, said he thinks a few original league owners were afraid to let Oklahoma City in league.
Since players in the USHL are recruited instead of drafted, they have the choice of where they want to play.
Oklahoma City is a bit more attractive, than say, Waterloo, Iowa.
"The bottom line is that there are 10 teams in the league, and the three or four guys from the old teams didn't want us in there," Burkett said.
"Their arenas only seat about 1,000 people, and if you put a city of our size in there with another city like Omaha, we're eventually going to put them out of business."
USHL president David Tyler seemed impressed with visits to State Fair Arena and the Myriad, the proposed home sites, in early May. He said Oklahoma City would be the largest metropolitan city in the league.
Tyler didn't indicate any problems whatsoever, including travel or arena size.
Five clubs are located in Iowa; two are in Minnesota; and Wisconsin, Nebraska and Canada have one. Omaha has the biggest facility , the 5,900-seat Ak-sar-ben Coliseum.
Tyler was not available for comment Tuesday night.
"Just by sitting in the meetings Thursday night and early Friday morning, everybody was impressed by the two buildings," Perpich said.
"They said Oklahoma City was a great market.
"Overall, I guess their concerns were travel. I think they were wanting a team with a closer proximity than Oklahoma City.
"I think if there were a Tulsa, a Dallas or a Wichita in the league, we might have been all right," he said. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 429485