One of the more interesting topics of conversation here over the last two weeks has been the state of the Oklahoma City Barons. As the Oilers continue to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous injury fortune, the Barons (who've been relatively healthy all season long) have been decimated by call-ups. They've lost top-scoring wingers Liam Reddox and Linus Omark to the Oilers for the season. They've lost their best defender, Jeff Petry, to the Oilers for extended periods. Now, as the Barons try to kick down the homestretch, the Oilers have also nabbed heart-and-soul winger Teemu Hartikainen, center Chris Vande Velde, leading scorer Alexandre Giroux, and defensive center Ryan O`Marra. That they're still in the race is a testament to Colin McDonald, Brad Moran, Ben Ondrus, and Martin Gerber.
The call-ups have led to inspired debate amongst the commenters here -- is it better for the organization as a whole to have those players in Oklahoma City ensuring a playoff spot and a successful first season in the AHL or is it better for those players to experience the NHL, even on a lost cause like the Oilers, because they need to see what awaits them in the coming years?
Personal development aside, I wanted to find out what a playoff appearance would mean to the Barons and Prodigal Hockey. After the jump, I wade into the finances of the deal.
To determine how much each home playoff game would be worth to Prodigal Hockey and the Barons, I'm using an average ticket price of $20. This number is an educated guess taken from a statement made prior to the season by Bob Flannery, Director of Ticket Sales for the Barons. When asked about pricing, Flannery said tickets "...would average around $25 a piece, but be as low as $10." Based on the number of ticket and package discounts offered by the Barons as well as early evening walk-up deals for $10, I've priced in a significant discount to arrive at $20 per ticket. Below is the regular season attendance for the Barons to this point:
|Total||38 games||152,546||$ 3,050,920|
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Barons have averaged 4,014 fans per game. If the $20 ticket figure is close to accurate, the Barons have generated a bit over $3 million in gate revenue.
The Barons may be able to charge more for a playoff series, but at this point, I believe $20 is again a fair baseline. Assuming the Barons could reach their season opening total of 9,800, each playoff game would mean an additional ~$200,000 in gate revenue and a playoff appearance would guarantee Prodigal Hockey an additional ~$400,000 in gate revenue
Perhaps most importantly for Prodigal and the Barons would be the opportunity to prove Oklahoma City is capable of selling out an AHL building. It has been rumored that part of the Oilers' agreement with Prodigal includes Edmonton's ability to exercise an out clause should the Barons attendance fall below 5,000 fans per game for a season. The Oilers aren't going to exercise such a clause after one year, but both sides would have much more confidence in the market after seeing 20,000 fans pass through the Cox Center turnstiles for a couple of playoff games.
All credit for the compiled attendance data goes to AvsOkie at OKCHockey.com.