The story we’ve been covering over the past few weeks regarding the possible name and logo of Prodigal’s new USL PRO soccer team has finally reached the point of being official as Prodigal announced the team as being named OKC Energy FC. After looking at the new team’s website, seeing the work that has been put into the shiny new franchise, my fears grew bigger that this may spell the end of Oklahoma City hockey as we know it.
When the soccer team was first announced back in July, my fears were small that Prodigal would treat the Oklahoma City Barons as a “red-headed step-child” as the soccer team was going to be an individual venture by the management group. While it’s understandable that someone would want to put the care into something like that, one would also hope that they would give the same time and care to something they already have possession of and another big entity behind it such as the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately it seems that after three years of mediocre attendance and little to no media coverage outside of the NHL Lockout period last season, Prodigal is starting to lean towards sowing their seeds elsewhere.
One look at the Energy’s website is the first big clue to them putting more eggs into the soccer team’s basket. Not once have I seen the quality of the images and renderings that are currently on the Energy site, on the Barons site. It’s obvious they have the technology and someone with the knowledge on how to do it, but they haven’t given any of it to the hockey side of things. On their Twitter feed, they start with a giveaway of the new team scarves and start offering free seats to a game to another blogger located in Oklahoma City, trying to change their mind about the team (meanwhile they block me from their Twitter account after five minutes of following, but I digress). For the Barons, they’ve done nothing but maintain that giving away seats is a bad thing and do all they can to refuse to.
Probably the biggest tell in all of this, Prodigal is adamant about building a soccer specific stadium in downtown Oklahoma City. With the uncertainty of the Cox Convention Center, the Barons most likely need a new place to play. If Prodigal is more wanting to spend the money on a new soccer stadium, you can pretty well guess that the Barons are going to be squeezed out of Oklahoma City if something doesn’t change soon.
In a perfect world, there’s another management/ownership group in Oklahoma City that is ready and waiting to take over the Barons should Prodigal decide to move out of the picture. But as everyone knows, things rarely ever end up that perfect.
Don’t get me wrong in that I’m trying to run them down for doing these things. Maybe they’re changing their ways from how they run the Barons and are trying new things, and that’s great. But as an OKC Barons fan, this worries me that they decided to do this three years too late and still haven’t done those things with the Barons team itself. Other than the Linus Omark goal during the Kid’s Day game, you haven’t heard much at all about the Barons this season anywhere in Oklahoma City. It’s been a frustrating season for a lot of people that are fans of the Oilers organization, but I would certainly hate to lose hockey in OKC, 50 transactions a month or not. I fear that’s the path that we’re currently on.