|Former Texas Stars Richard Bachman (Credit: Steven Christy)|
The Barons have been in the league for five years, joining in 2010-11, and have moved with the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars to whatever division the AHL created for them, whether South or West.
Bob Funk, CEO of Prodigal, which operates the Barons, said the decision was "business-driven."
"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."
Prodigal began operating a USL Pro level soccer team in Oklahoma City last year. They operated the Barons on a lease from the Oilers, who actually own the franchise.
Oilers President and COO Patrick LaForge told CHED in Edmonton that Prodigal was being forced to make a decision in a window that opened in November and closed at the end of the year. They had to either end their lease with the Cox Convention Center or re-up on a ten-year lease. They made the decision to pull the plug.
After losing local rival Houston after 2013, the Texas Stars lose another local trip, putting San Antonio on an island in Texas with the Dallas affiliate.
At the Stars' sale press conference earlier today, Jim Lites indicated he thinks the Oilers "would be delighted to go to Houston," saying that there should be a facility just like the Cedar Park Center built in the city of Houston or a community nearby to hold an AHL club again.
"We like OKC, but that's a long trip," he added. "We'd be much more excited about a team in Houston because you can play weekend games on the road because you avoid the 7-hour bus ride."
That, of course, is no salve to dedicated Oklahoma City fans who found out today that they will not be able to watch AHL hockey in their hometown. Further, many good hockey people will be without jobs come this summer. This is obviously a dark day for the American Hockey League fans on the I-35 corridor.
It can be reasonably assumed that hockey will return to Oklahoma City some day. With Wichita, Allen, Tulsa and Missouri all in close proximity, it makes a lot of sense to see an ECHL club in OKC sooner rather than later.