Sunday, January 11, 2015


The Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL are disappearing after this season as the minor league hockey picture continues to evolve. The Barons are affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers, who are likely to have a team much closer to home next season, as rumours of an AHL western division continue to circulate. I am drawn to these lame duck teams as it provides an opportunity to see a venue that may not be available in the future. Last year I saw the Huntsville Stars in their last regular season weekend of existence, and the year before I attended a San Francisco Bulls game at the Cow Palace just a few weeks before they folded. In both cases I was quite happy to have made those trips to see a club that no longer exists.

So why not head off to OKC for a Barons tilt? That's exactly what I'm doing. There are a few other teams in the area, including the Oklahoma Sooners in nearby Norman. However, flying to OKC from NYC is not as easy as ABC. Connections are necessary and that limits what you can see on the day you return, when the latest flight out is around 5:30. So instead, I'm flying to DFW, just 200 miles south of OKC, and driving up. I'm waiting for the college baseball season to start but not waiting too long, as I want to catch some college hoops too. There's only one weekend when the Barons are home and I can see both basketball and baseball, that being February 27-March 1 (update: it will be very cold in Oklahoma this weekend, so no baseball as the Sooners have moved their series to Las Vegas).

The schedule is:

Fri, Feb 27 BYU at Oklahoma (NCAA Baseball) 1:00
Fri, Feb 27 San Antonio at Oklahoma City (AHL) 7:00
Sat, Feb 28 TCU at Oklahoma (NCAA Basketball) 1:00
Sat, Feb 28 Arkansas-Little Rock at UT-Arlington (NCAA Basketball) 7:15
Sun, Mar  1 UMass-Lowell at Dallas Baptist (NCAA Baseball) 1:00

That's five four games and five four new venues in just three days, an ambitious trip. Several years back, I had planned to see a game at UT-Arlington but decided on an D-League game in Frisco instead. In those days, college basketball was probably my least favourite sport but now I am addicted to it, mainly because there are 351 venues to visit! Now that I have seen all 122 Big 4 venues, I find myself attending far more college games than those in the pros. It is not something I ever expected to happen, but it certainly does open up a whole new world of sports road trips!



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