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New for 2010-2011: Oklahoma City Barons

The newest team in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the 2010-2012 season: the Oklahoma City Barons, who will play out of downtown’s Cox Convention Center.

The franchise will begin play at the newly renovated Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City in early October. Renovations such as state-of-the-art scoreboard and sound system will be complimented by other improvements such as, terrace suites, exclusive lounge areas, a new locker room and workout area.

Oklahoma City will become the home of the Oilers’ primary affiliate, the proving ground for the franchise’s top draft choices and prospects. In operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top developmental league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 84 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 6.5 million fans per season have attended AHL games across North American since 2001. The Oilers have been owners in the American Hockey League since 1982.

It’s been a little surprising there’s been no minor-league hockey in Oklahoma City since the CHL’s Blazers went under in 2009; the CHL team drew well at the Myriad (the former name for the Cox Convention Center), and before that Oklahoma City was a very successful farm team for the Boston Bruins. A move to Ford Center, where the league was a secondary tenant to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, was a big mistake in retrospect.

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