Tulsa hockey fans are ecstatic. The Oilers organization is chomping at the bit. The players wish the season started last week. How about the Central Hockey League? What is their take on the Oilers and the big move into the BOK Center this season? I asked Bob Hoffman, CHL's Director of Communications, about the state of the Oilers franchise.
The Tulsa Oilers appear to be a stable franchise. How important is that for the CHL?
Stability among franchises is what makes a league strong and gives it the ability to grow. Tulsa along with Wichita, Oklahoma City and Mississippi have been consistent franchises that last season played in their 1000th CHL games. The history of hockey in Tulsa has firmly planted the sport into the grass roots of the region and has created life-long hockey fans.
The Oilers are moving into the new BOK Center. How does that affect the CHL? Or does it?
The majority of our teams now play in new buildings, and we are confident that the facility in Tulsa will be one of the best in the league. Teams and players alike from around the league are excited to make the trip to Tulsa and see the new building first hand.
Does the CHL have expectations for the Oilers in the new arena attendance-wise?
Fans are going to be excited to see the new building and experience Oilers hockey in a brand-new-state-of-the-art venue. Head coach Dan Hodge has assembled a strong team which should help contribute to strong attendance for the team.
I read Wichita is building a new rink. What other cities are upgrading their facilities?
Once Wichita moves into a new facility in the 2009-10 season the league will be playing in almost exclusively new facilities. Only three of 16 teams will be playing in venues built before 2000 (Texas, Amarillo and Odessa).
Will the CHL be expanding in the future?
The CHL is always looking for strong markets as potential expansion sites. Next season (2009-10) the league will expand to Allen, Texas and Independence, Missouri with new multi-purpose facilities. Announcements could be coming in the next couple of months for other expansion that will carry the league into the 2010-11 season.
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