Stockton Hockey purchases ECHL Boardwalk Bullies franchise and will relocate to the East Bay for the 2005-06 ECHL hockey season
Stockton Hockey Acquires Boardwalk Bullies; Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies To Relocate To Stockton, California For 2005-06 ECHL Season
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Atlantic City Hockey LLC, the parent company of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL, have announced the sale of the Atlantic City ECHL membership to the Stockton Hockey Franchise Group, which is owned and operated by Michael Reinsdorf. Atlantic City will relocate to Stockton, California upon conclusion of the 2004-05 ECHL season and remain a member of the ECHL in 2005-06.
"This was simply a business decision made in the best interests of all involved, and in the best interest of our league partners and the ECHL," said Boardwalk Bullies Vice President and General Manager Dan Belisle. "The Boardwalk Bullies have remained in the Atlantic City market for four years because of our confidence we had in the market potential, but in those four years the organization has contributed almost $12 million to the local economy and has sustained losses in excess of $5 million."
The team name "Boardwalk Bullies" has been retained by owner George Shinn.
"I am deeply saddened by todays events because Atlantic City is one of my favorite places to visit," said Shinn. "Yet despite our continued success year in and year out on the ice, we were not successful in creating a large enough fan base to sustain operations. I do wish to thank Boardwalk Hall and all of the loyal fans within the community who continually supported us despite the obstacles that we faced."
Currently in their fourth season in Atlantic City since relocating from Birmingham, Alabama in 2001, the Boardwalk Bullies have perennially been one of the ECHLs strongest members on the ice. Atlantic City finished the 2003-04 season with a 14-year club-best record of 47-19-6 and became just the 14th team in ECHL history to reach the 100-point plateau. In four years, the Bullies have compiled an impressive overall record of 152-72-32 while capturing the 2003 Northeast Division title, the 2003 Northern Conference Championship, and the 2003 ECHL Kelly Cup Championship. During their inaugural season of 2001-02, the Bullies advanced to the Northern Conference Finals.
The Boardwalk Bullies franchise name has been retained? [see note at end of post] The name works, but it would probably not draw large numbers of casual fans out to attend a game. The Boardwalk name could work well with Stockton's new arena and waterfront development plans.
The Sharks franchise name was a marketing coup because it embraced a local icon, and had an old school Pacific design to go along with it.
I am not sure about the rights involved, but if the new ECHL franchise decided to try a new franchise name, I would have to recommend the Stockton Seals. It is a throwback to the NHL history in the East Bay, it embraces a local icon, and it sounds like a jersey I would want to own. If they went with the green and yellow of the Oakland Seals, it would tie in even more to the past. It would also be similar to the color scheme of the Oakland Athletics.
Then again, the ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings, and the Japanese baseball Hokkaido Ham Fighters are a little more entertaining. The new Washington Nationals MLB franchise missed out on a golden opportunity to embrace the Greys franchise name from its Negro league roots.
[Update] Dan Chapman Named President of Two New Stockton Sports Franchises - stocktongov.com.
Michael Reinsdorf, CEO of both Stockton Hockey Franchise Group, Inc., and Stockton Football Franchise Group, Inc. announced today the hiring of Dan Chapman as President of both the ECHL and af2 [arena football?] teams which will play in the Stockton Events Center. The new 10,000-seat Stockton Events Center will open in October 2005.
Good luck with the franchises Dan. I would market the hockey team at the final two Stanford-Cal Big Freeze games of the season, the SJSU-USC double header to end their regular season, and at the 4 team Pac-8 tournament being held in Berkeley just to have a jump on getting the Stockton name out there to local hockey fans.
[Update2] Three Professional Sports To Play In Stockton - KCRA Channel 3.
[Update3] Stockton hockey tickets will be available for fans to purchase next week according to Record staff writer Scott Linesburgh. Season tickets will range from $325-$900. It also looks like there will be a franchise naming decision that will take place in March, with fan input. After adding Stockton to make 9 teams in the West, a 10th team will probably be added to the Conference this week.
[Update4] Reader Ed Early adds a few notes to my post on Stockton Hockey. Note that I am colorblind green and yellow.
Just a thought in regards to the Boardwalk Bullies' relocation to Stockton - according to the press release, the name "Boardwalk Bullies" was retained by Shinn and not the incoming ownership group (which I'm sure would want to choose their own name).
As for a new name, I wouldn't oppose the use of "Seals" - I grew up in the Bay Area when the Seals were still around. In fact, I have a pennant from the 1974-75 Seals. I don't know about the Charlie O. color scheme, though - the Seals' original colors (kelly green, royal blue and white) were also distinctive, and I liked the abstract seal logo.
It must be noted that there's currently a team in the Southern Pro Hockey League called the Florida (formerly Orlando) Seals, but their colors are red, white and blue.