Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hey Oklahoma, What Do You Wanna' Be....... ...(when you grow up)?

OKC is in a position that most cities have only dreamed of.
Bringing both the Penguins (NHL) AND the Hornets (NBA) to Oklahoma City would almost immediately move OKC from being a "one horse town" (college football) to becoming a legitimate bigtime sports town (and state).

Yet, I heard on the news this morning that "officials" (whatever THAT means) are wondering whether Oklahoma can handle two winter pro sports teams.

I was fortunate to live in Denver in the mid 70's and remember what bringing the Broncos (NFL) and the ABA/NBA (Rockets then Nuggets) and the NHL (Rockies then Avalanche) followed by the (baseball) Rockies (MLB) and even major league soccer did for the state. Since then Colorado has added several minor league franchises around the state including the Eagles near Loveland, CO who play against the OKC Blazers and the Sky Sox baseball team in Colorado Springs. Basketball programs in the inner city and around the state improved dramatically. Youth Baseball and Softball programs grew with support from the Colorado Rockies who built new fields and provided youth with local stars to look up to.
The Avalanche won the hearts and minds of Coloradoans across the state, and a guy named Patrick Roy became as big of a legend as John Elway.
In the 1970's when there was occasional talk of bringing MLB to Denver, "officials" said it was just a "one horse town" and would never support any other sports team but the Broncos.
The "officials" were wrong.

The growth of the city(s) following each of those additions was breathtaking to watch over the years and if you have ever been to the Mile High City you know that there is plenty to do in Denver (besides going to the slopes) and the growth all along the "front range" (as it is called) is spectacular.

Oklahoma is positioned to put Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, and New Mexico in the rear view mirror as far as attracting new business, new residents and providing a quality of life that people seek. (I know Kansas has pro sports... but they are shared with MO)

Going directly from ZERO pro sports teams to TWO major league sports teams at the same time is similar to what Denver did with the Colorado Rockies and the Avalanche, adding both teams within a few years of each other... but better!

Yes, Oklahoma can support two winter sports teams at the same time when you consider that selling out a NBA or NHL game means only 18,000 max. Not the 40,000 for MLB or the 75,000+ required to support the NFL.
While there are some crossover fans, the NHL and the NBA draw different folks to games by and large.
Hockey fans are very, very loyal fans... and if I remember correctly the Blazers are one of the top drawing minor league hockey teams in the country.
The immediate rivalry with the Dallas Stars (formerly Minnesota North Stars) would be exciting, fun and another excuse to beat up on Texas.

Oklahoma is in a position to "go for two" and win it all or "go for one", play it safe and hope for the best.
If Oklahoma puts all the eggs in the Hornets basket... and it falls through, not good.
If Oklahoma puts all the eggs in the Hornets basket and passes on the NHL, it could be decades before the chance for another pro team comes along.

Bringing both and supporting BOTH will assure that other pro teams seek to come here ASAP and not later. Bringing both to Oklahoma will increase business, increase housing, increase property values, bring new restaurants, new malls, new walmarts, new housing additions, new jobs and a new pride to the state without hurting the Sooners or OSU one bit... in fact, the college sports teams in Colorado only got more support following pro sports coming to town.

Within 5 years many highschools in Colorado added inline roller HOCKEY to their sports programs following the arrival of the Avalanche. Now virtually every school has hockey in addition to all the other sports. Denver University has prospered greatly from the presence of the NHL.

Step up to the plate Oklahoma, it's your time to "hit one out of the park".
"Since you built it (the ford center) they indeed did come".
The only question is, NOW what are you going to DO?
UPDATE: 01/17/07- OKC "fumbles" puck, can't compete with KC or Pittsburg say's Oklahoma businessmen who will focus on obtaining an NBA franchise.

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