Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Business Solid for OKC Blazers in Ford Center

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Business Solid for OKC Blazers in Ford Center

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma City Blazers are doing well as the only regular inhabitants of the Ford Center, officials said.

The NBA's Hornets, formerly guests in the city after Hurricane Katrina wrecked their hometown, are back in New Orleans after two successful seasons at Robinson and Reno. The Hornets' exit hasn't necessarily been a boost to Blazers attendance. It's business as usual for Express Sports Chief Executive Officer Brad Lund, the Blazers team and front office. Minor-league hockey has a core following that is usually about the same, regardless of competition from other sports.

So as the team approaches its annual New Year's Eve matchup with the rival Tulsa Oilers, the Blazers are on a par with their usual attendance numbers, Lund said. The game will be the 14th of 32 regular-season home games this season.

"Entering the game, our average attendance is 7,690 and it will be close to 7,900 by the end of (2007)," Lund said. "Traditionally our crowds increase 20 percent during the second half of the season. So we're right on pace to put same amount during last year, when we led North America (minor-league operations) in attendance. We were proud of that and worked very hard. Considering it was the Hornets' second season, last year was a great season for us."

Lund said the Blazers made some strategic changes in their promotions schedule.

"During the first half we placed a few Tier-1 promotions; historically we would not have done those until February or March, which is our prime part of the calendar," Lund said. "But the way we took the approach this year, we wanted balance with our key promotions instead of having them all just back to back to back to back in January, February and March."

The Blazers had a Stick Night promotional event in just the second home game and recently had Chopper-4 Night in which fans who donated a coat received a toy helicopter.

Lund said business has been solid on the corporate end. Sponsorship money has never been better for the club. …

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