Hockey Team Apologizes for Mocking Rival City's Bankruptcy
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Bakersfield Hockey Team Apologizes for Mocking Stockton Bankruptcy

October 9, 2012


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A minor league hockey team issued a formal apology after its promotional materials mocked the bankruptcy filing of Stockton, California, in a game against that city's team, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sources indicate that the Bakersfield Condors, the main rival to the Stockton Thunder, announced that an upcoming game against Stockton’s hockey team was to be dubbed "Our City Isn't Bankrupt" night.

The promotion was a cruel homage to Stockton's fiscal emergency, which culminated in a high-profile bankruptcy filing earlier this year. And the bankruptcy negotiations have been very contentious in Stockton, which has been forced to cut employee pensions and lay off hundreds of workers due to collapsing tax revenues.

To no one's surprise, the Bakersfield promotion drew plenty or rancor from residents of Stockton and Bakersfield alike, so the hockey team changed the name of the promotion to "Boomtown Bakersfield," which some might still interpret as a slight against Stockton’s financial circumstances.

But the Condors seem to be contrite. According Matt Riley, the president of the organization, the team's promotion was "never meant to poke fun at those who are struggling due to Stockton's financial situation."

Still, Riley noted that his city was proud of its financial health, and said the promotion was intended to "put the focus of the night to highlight the city of Bakersfield's success and the continued growth of the city."

And while Bakersfield’s decision to change the promotion to something that didn't highlight Stockton's need for debt relief seems to have been made in good faith, the team's move may have been motivated by other factors.

A group of Stockton Thunder fans reportedly contacted several of Bakersfield’s sponsors and asked them to pressure the Condors to change the promotion.

According to sources, this tactic was very effective. Despite the change and the apology, several Thunder fans are threatening to boycott the game in Bakersfield, so as not to give the Condors any additional ticket revenue.

In response, the Condors are offering half-price tickets to the game for all city employees of Stockton. This is a friendly gesture, but Stockton fans would likely have preferred the Condors expressed a more sympathy for the bankrupt city from the start.

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