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Sharks ECHL affiliate the San Francisco Bulls folding or moving to Fresno

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This kind of came out of the blue publicly, but was a long time coming behind closed doors. The San Francisco Bulls, the San Jose Sharks ECHL affiliate, are on the verge of folding or moving, possibly as soon as next week. Apparently they lost a lot of money over the last two seasons due to unfavorable lease terms and far lower than expected attendance and losses. The current owners have a deal to sell the Bulls to a new ownership group who intend to move them to either Oracle Arena in Oakland or to Save Mart Center in Fresno. The former seems unlikely as the Warriors have refusal rights on any other sports team tenants at Oracle Arena and they seem disinclined to share their arena space. The sale and move are dependent on ECHL's board voting on it next week. If it's not approved the Bulls will try to finish out the season in SF before folding but they need to find the cash to do so (having lost 2 million last year and they're on track to lose another 2 million this year). The Bulls entered the ECHL last season and have watched their attendance dwindle since opening day from over 8000 down to under 2000 a game good for dead last in the league.

http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/S-F-Bulls-hockey-team-could-fold-or-move-soon-5160054.php

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Oh wow...

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This kind of came out of the blue publicly, but was a long time coming behind closed doors. The San Francisco Bulls, the San Jose Sharks ECHL affiliate, are on the verge of folding or moving, possibly as soon as next week. Apparently they lost a lot of money over the last two seasons due to unfavorable lease terms and far lower than expected attendance and losses. The current owners have a deal to sell the Bulls to a new ownership group who intend to move them to either Oracle Arena in Oakland or to Save Mart Center in Fresno. The former seems unlikely as the Warriors have refusal rights on any other sports team tenants at Oracle Arena and they seem disinclined to share their arena space. The sale and move are dependent on ECHL's board voting on it next week. If it's not approved the Bulls will try to finish out the season in SF before folding but they need to find the cash to do so (having lost 2 million last year and they're on track to lose another 2 million this year). The Bulls entered the ECHL last season and have watched their attendance dwindle since opening day from over 8000 down to under 2000 a game good for dead last in the league.

http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/S-F-Bulls-hockey-team-could-fold-or-move-soon-5160054.php

I don't see how the team could be profitable at SaveMart Center as the Fresno Falcons were not after five years there in the mid-2000's.

Moving to Selland Arena may not even be a possibility since the city is still on the hook from when the Falcons moved back downtown and quickly folded.

http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/11/16/3614491/falcons-fiasco-haunts-fresno-finances.html

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That's a shame. Minor league sports (except baseball) just can't seem to hack it in a pro market like the Bay Area.

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That's a shame. Minor league sports (except baseball) just can't seem to hack it in a pro market like the Bay Area.

Don't know about the Bay Area as a whole. Minor league sports actually seem to do ok in the Bay Area when run properly with several teams having survived or even flourished in minor or oddball leagues. Where they fail is in San Francisco proper. San Franciscans aren't the best sports fans to begin with, but if the venue isn't trendy, the team isn't top level and the team isn't good they won't come out.

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Putting a low-level minor team in the stinky old Cow Palace wasn't a recipe for success.

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Very few low-level minor league teams can be successful in a major-league area.

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Very few low-level minor league teams can be successful in a major-league area.

The Cow Palace has more in common with an Elks lodge than it does a pro arena. But that was part of the problem. The Cow Palace is a difficult to get to pit that is situated smack in the middle of the ghetto (to date it's the only arena I've been to where guys were openly selling crack and prostitutes were getting dropped off across from the main entrance). And that's frankly any minor league team's problem in San Francisco. The minor league venues are all old and out of the way. The new NASL soccer league is setting itself up to the be the next league to give Baghdad by the Bay a try, and they're going to make the same mistake. They want to drop a minor league team in hard to get to Kezar Stadium distant from all the "it" places in the city. They'll fold just as fast as the last Division 2 team to call Kezar home did back in 2007 (the California Victory of the then D2 USL-1). The problem is though as the Victory, Bulls and soon NASL will find out, is that unless you use the old venues there is no where to put a team in SF, and you sure as hell can't afford to build a new venue in a good location on a minor league budget in the city.

But I think a team can be successful in a major league area as long as its properly placed. Take the San Jose Giants baseball team or the Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team. Both are successful in a major league market because they were located properly and in decent venues. The Bulls were not in a great location, had a terrible lease situation, were put in the city (where minor league teams go to die), and weren't well marketed on top of it all.

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He said "area" as in Bay Area, not "arena," which is undoubtedly minor-league.

I know this is basically rubbing sriracha right on your ass, so I'll just leave now, but if the Warriors get their fancy pier arena, it would probably be the best for everyone if it were to have two anchor tenants.

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He said "area" as in Bay Area, not "arena," which is undoubtedly minor-league.

I know this is basically rubbing sriracha right on your ass, so I'll just leave now, but if the Warriors get their fancy pier arena, it would probably be the best for everyone if it were to have two anchor tenants.

Not sure who the second tenant would be unless an expansion or relocated major league team moved in. But a minor league hockey team wouldn't really be much of an anchor tenant. I think the Warriors will be looking for real money makers, not date fillers.

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First Vegas & now this? I'm starting to worry about the ECHL when it comes to the West.

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First Vegas & now this? I'm starting to worry about the ECHL when it comes to the West.

Well at least Vegas isn't moving, at least not yet. But yeah the stability out west just isn't what you'd hope it would be. But then in markets where snow is as foreign as Canada you can't be shocked.

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Franchise instability is a way of life in minor league sports.

The Gulls were doing great in the WCHL, but it was downhill after the ECHL merger.

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Franchise instability is a way of life in minor league sports.

The Gulls were doing great in the WCHL, but it was downhill after the ECHL merger.

Depends on the minor league. MiLB is pretty damn stable for the amount of teams it has. And the AHL isn't exactly unstable either.

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And the AHL isn't exactly unstable either.

haha what? The AHL gains and loses a team like every year.

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And the AHL isn't exactly unstable either.

haha what? The AHL gains and loses a team like every year.

Actually, the Wolf Pack started in 1936 as the Providence Reds, then became the Broome Dusters/Binghamton Whalers/Rangers between 1977 and 97, then became the Wolf Pack in '97 with the exception of 10 through 12 when they were the Connecticut Whale.

The Utica Comets had three stints as the Springfield Indians between 1935 and 94.

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And the AHL isn't exactly unstable either.

haha what? The AHL gains and loses a team like every year.

in the same sense that atoms like to gain and lose electrons.

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That sucks. I agree with the guy above. Starting to think the West in the ECHL was a bad idea. Might be best to let the West teams restart a new WCHL. Really isn't fair having a lot more teams in the East anyways. I do feel for Ontario, Stockton and Alaska who have a great fan base.

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With college hockey on the rise, I'm just not sure what purpose a AA league serves anymore except to fill dates at an arena in Stockton and give hockey jobs to guys who washed out of developmental systems. Very few players in the ECHL are there on assignment.

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With college hockey on the rise, I'm just not sure what purpose a AA league serves anymore except to fill dates at an arena in Stockton and give hockey jobs to guys who washed out of developmental systems. Very few players in the ECHL are there on assignment.

Meh. Isn't that enough? They don't need to serve a meaningful purpose in the grand hockey hierarchy... they just need to be able to get butts in the seats. College hockey? Dumb, bad hockey players deserve jobs, too.

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