Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Minor League Teams Gear Up to Reap Benefits of Tulsa's BOK Center

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Minor League Teams Gear Up to Reap Benefits of Tulsa's BOK Center

Article excerpt

Having built it, Tulsa teams hope they come.

With the opening of the BOK Center, Tulsa minor league teams are gearing up to reap the benefits of a new arena.

"The most important thing to the success of a minor league team is imaging and branding," said Brad Lund, chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Express Sports.

"The second most important thing is the quality of the venue."

For years the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League and Tulsa Talons arena football team played at the Tulsa Convention Center. These teams watched their counterparts in Oklahoma City upgrade to the Ford Center while they played at a facility from the '60s.

This year the Oilers move to the BOK Center.

"It's going to be a major league show," said Taylor Hall, general manager for the Oilers.

"The BOK Center is just as nice as just about any building in the country. It's going to be the same type of class act as the Dallas Stars in the American Airlines Center."

Attendance for the Oilers averaged 4,000 last year. Hall said this year they anticipate anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000.

"The fans definitely want to see a winning hockey club," he said. "Also, I think people want to see the new building. It's generating excitement."

For their opening home game against the arch-rival Oklahoma City Blazers, Hall said he hopes to sell out the 18,000-seat venue.

"It's the affordable way to see the BOK Center," he said, because at $12, the hockey games are cheaper than the average concert ticket.

But moving to a new arena does not always generate a larger crowd.

Lund said when the Blazers moved to the Ford Center, they expected to have a significant increase in attendance. Prior to the move, the Blazers were at the Cox Business Services Convention Center.

Lund said they were stunned when attendance remained the same. …

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