The Bakersfield ECHL franchise has been featured across the internet and on national and international news outlets due to their unique promotions and in-game entertainment. From Gettysburg Address, Seinfeld or Hobbit themed jerseys to cemetery headstone giveaways, the Condors in the ECHL have been anything but mundane.
Throughout their relationship with the Oilers, having been purchased by the NHL club a year ago, Bakersfield has maintained autonomy when it comes to their unique entertainment.
“The Oilers have given us the autonomy to do things and the Oilers purchased us because of some of the things we do,” Bakersfield’s President Matthew Riley said.
Now that Bakersfield will house the Oilers AHL affiliate, as part of the league’s new Pacific Division, the antics don’t have to stop.
“We want to be able to continue to do what we’ve done in the past and now just do it at a higher level, just one step away,” Riley said. “I’ll just say now we’re going to have more fun.”
The Oilers hope it doesn’t change much either.
“We hope it doesn’t change,” Vice Chair of Oilers Entertainment Group Kevin Lowe said. “Matt Riley, who has been with the Condors and runs the business operations, has been there for 17 years. He’s a bright guy and really understands and respects the game of hockey. We’re going to encourage Matt to keep doing what he’s doing. Our fans who happen to be in California, Oilers fans, who want to see the American Hockey League team, go to Bakersfield. You never know what you’re going to see.”
In addition to providing family fun, Bakersfield will now see an increased emphasis on developing young future NHL players.
“We’re certainly focused on family entertainment and being involved in the community and those will remain our focuses and now bringing this accelerate level of play to the ice where nine out of 10 who play in the NHL played in the AHL,” Riley said. “Now the fans will get to connect and see those guys on TV and say, ‘Hey, I knew that player.’”
Riley couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s pretty thrilling.”