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Oklahoma City Doesn't See Barons' Home Playoff Opener

Photo © 2011 Neal Livingston All rights reserved.
Photo © 2011 Neal Livingston All rights reserved.

All upper bowl tickets for the first round are $10. Pre-order or at the door, it doesn't matter. The price is fantastic, but perhaps the promotional side of this has gone unnoticed. At such a cheap price, can the Barons entice a crowd for a Sunday Game #3?

--Neal Livingston, pondering the Barons' attendance in game three against the Houston Aeros.

Tonight, the game touches down in Oklahoma City. A Sunday night game is a hard sell in this city, but with $10 upper level tickets, and smattering of pre-game activities going on around the downtown area, a crowd of 3,500 might not be too much of a stretch (until I read my own words and think, "yeah, more like 2,500).

--Neal's realistic prediction about the same attendance.

Official attendance for game three: 2,859

Sunday night game or not, 2,859 fans for the first home playoff game of the #1 seed is abysmal, but not shocking:

Last season, the playoffs were very poorly attended with the Barons averaging just 2,554 fans in their three home playoff games.

Terribly low attendance totals have plagued the Barons throughout their first two seasons. A conference-best team should help those totals, but if that help is just 300 more fans than last year's post-season attendance averages, the Barons' future in Oklahoma City could be murky.

Prodigal Hockey must be acutely aware of the NHL's desire to move more AHL affiliates farther West...

Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary attended a private meeting with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly earlier this month, where the group conceptually talked about the introduction of a western wing to the American Hockey League to ease the burden of travel on prospect players, as well as provide NHL teams with a more hands on approach in day to day development.

American Hockey League president and CEO, David Andrews, tells TSN he is aware of the ongoing discussions that have taken place at the NHL level and says he has made it clear he is willing to work to create a true western division and help facilitate such a move.

...and do so in the next few years. If the Barons can't draw significantly more fans, logistics alone make Reno, Salt Lake, Portland, and Boise much more attractive homes for the Oilers' AHL affiliate.