The OKC Barons' management announced Thursday morning that it would cease operations at the end of this current season.
According to officials, the decision comes after the OKC Barons were unable to complete an affiliation agreement with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers. The OKC Barons organization sought new economic terms to promote a more sustainable and profitable American Hockey League team in Oklahoma City.
Officials said the OKC Barons organization has invested in the team for the past five years covering the operational expenses. However, without an improved agreement and new financial model to provide the best opportunity for success, the OKC Barons organization made a difficult business decision to cease operations of the hockey team at the end of the current season.
Statement from Prodigal
“The decision to cease operations of the OKC Barons at the end of the current season was business-driven. This was a very difficult decision to make because we love the team, love the city and love our fans,” said Bob Funk Jr., CEO of Prodigal, the OKC Barons' management company. “Without a more equitable financial agreement with economic terms to provide the best opportunity for sustained success, we can no longer justify additional investments in the operations without higher returns. We have the highest regard for the Edmonton Oilers organization and it has been a privilege serving as its primary development club. Even though we were not successful at completing an agreement, we have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Edmonton Oilers' management and coaching staff over the past five years. We are also grateful for the committed partner we have had in the City of Oklahoma City. They shared our passion for bringing hockey to Oklahoma City. Most of all, we want to thank our fans in Oklahoma City for five years of unconditional enthusiastic support. We appreciate your dedication to the OKC Barons and the sport of the hockey. The management team at the OKC Barons is unequaled. They are simply the best. We will never say never to bringing professional hockey back to Oklahoma City in the future. We will always leave the door open.”
Statement from Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett
“I love hockey and I've been a fan since the time of the Oklahoma City Blazers. I am appreciative to Prodigal for bringing professional hockey back to Oklahoma City five years ago with the Barons. Throughout their tenure in Oklahoma City, Prodigal, through the Barons, Energy and other events, has enhanced the quality and variety of entertainment offerings available in our growing city,” Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. “I want to personally thank Bob Funk Jr. and his team at Prodigal for bringing the Barons to Oklahoma City and running a first class operation. The recent overwhelming success of the OKC Energy during its inaugural season points to good things ahead for the company and Oklahoma City.”
Statement from Edmonton Oilers
“The players, coaches and fans of the OKC Barons have been outstanding partners to our organization as our development team affiliate. We have enjoyed a solid working relationship with the City of Oklahoma City as well as with Prodigal, the Barons' management company, throughout the team's five years,” said Oilers Entertainment Group President & COO Patrick LaForge. “The decision to move on from Oklahoma City, although not easy, will open new opportunities for the Oilers organization and our AHL business. We want to thank Bob Funk Jr. and his team at Prodigal for their partnership in bringing professional hockey to Oklahoma City.”
Stay with us for updates.