Tulsa's ONEOK Field could land additional Bedlam baseball game
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Friday, May 04, 2012
5/04/12 at 4:11 AM
Related story: John Klein: Bedlam in Tulsa, OKC a good move.
Changes could be coming to the Bedlam baseball series - changes that Tulsans finally can get behind.
Starting in 2014, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will open up their annual three-game Big 12 Conference series to a bid between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, multiple sources tell the Tulsa World.
That means Tulsa could get two games and Oklahoma City could get one.
The Bedlam series has played one game a year in Tulsa since 1991. Since the Big 12 Conference formed in 1996-97 and instituted three-game series for league games, it's been one game in Tulsa and two in Oklahoma City.
Tulsa baseball fans have long been interested in changing the status quo, or at least alternating which minor league team - the Double-A Drillers or the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks - gets to host two of the three games.
Dwindling attendance in Bricktown in recent years, coupled with the emergence of ONEOK Field as a premier baseball facility and the revitalization of downtown Tulsa, put the discussion of bidding out Bedlam on the front burner.
"You have to have much more infrastructure than just the field and restaurants and stuff," said Tim Brassfield, executive director of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association. "You have to have the support of the community and ... not only promoters, but executors of the event. If Tulsa addresses those kinds of things, they'll continue to get better and better and they'll become more of a player."
The schools wanted to open the bidding process for 2013, but Big 12 realignment put a halt to those talks. Next year's schedule is already set - Bedlam '13 is Mother's Day weekend, Friday at ONEOK Field and Saturday-Sunday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (the Drillers certainly didn't want their first time to host two Bedlam games to be on a Mother's Day) - so the 2014 season is targeted for the minor league clubs and the cities to bid on hosting.
"Both places," said OSU associate athletic director Kevin Fite, "have done a tremendous job making it an event at their place."
The Bedlam series in 2014 probably will shift on the calendar as well. Both schools are adamant that they play the final weekend of the regular season (that, however, would likely be up to the Big 12 office), and they intend to move the series to Thursday-Friday-Saturday prior to the Big 12 Tournament instead of Friday-Saturday-Sunday.
Since 1998, three of the four smallest Bedlam crowds were played on a cool, damp Mother's Day. The fifth-smallest was played on Easter. Moving the series to late May addresses weather concerns, and moving it up a day takes satisfies the holiday vacancies.
The last three Sunday games at 13,066-seat Bricktown, the Bedlam crowds were 5,213, 5,097 and 5,475. After 19 years of crowds averaging 8,991 at Drillers Stadium, the first two Bedlam crowds at 7,833-seat ONEOK in 2010 and 2011 were 9,417 and 9,431.
With the postseason popularity of the NBA Thunder and the routine inevitability of the Big 12 baseball tournament in late May at Bricktown Ballpark, some think Oklahoma City has begun to take Bedlam baseball for granted.
"I don't know that I'd say that. I do think there's a novelty aspect in anything that you do," Brassfield said. "But I don't think it's for lack of effort on the part of the people involved with it now."
OU coach Sunny Golloway suggested Tulsans might not turn out in such strong numbers if they got to choose between a Friday night game and a Saturday night game, as opposed to selling out the Friday night game because it's their only option.
"And Tulsa's never had a Sunday," Fite said. "You're comparing apples to oranges. Sunday makes it very hard."
Golloway and OSU coach Frank Anderson recently spoke of wanting even more change in the series. Both coaches want to add a second non-conference game, but Anderson wants to take it a step further, playing the non-conference games at $39.2 million ONEOK and $39.9 million Bricktown Ballpark in midweek and playing the weekend Big 12 games on campus - two at one school and one at the other.
That plan seems farfetched, however, because of the revenue generated by having three games at the minor league parks. Ticket sale alone generate some $100,000-$125,000 per team each year, sources said.
With individual tickets at each school in the $5-$12 range, the non-conference Bedlam crowds last year in Norman (2,852) and this year in Stillwater (2,438) produced revenue well below the earning potential in Tulsa or Oklahoma City.
However the bid shakes out, Fite is certain of one thing: both schools will explore whatever avenues might make for a better Bedlam.
"It comes down to us looking at this series ... and seeing what's the best way to improve the series and maximize the visibility of it and potential revenue of it," Fite said. "I think we're both comfortable with Tulsa. If it were the best thing to do for the series to have two in Tulsa, I don't think there would be any problem with that."
21 Years of Bedlam Baseball
Attendance of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State regular-season baseball games in Tulsa and Oklahoma City since 1991, when Tulsa was added to the venue rotation as the opening game of the series:
- JOHN E. HOOVER, World Sports Writer
All Sports Stadium
(12 games, 6,896 average attendance)
1993: 3,080, 3,485
1994: 5,462, 3,725
1995: 12,185, 10,143
1996: 6,285, 4,320
1997: 10,458, 11,786+
(28 games, 9,562 average attendance)
1998: 13,066, 13,066
1999: 11,693, 10,278
2000: 13,066, 7,916*
2001: 8,306, 6,680+
2002: 9,028, 13,066
2003: 11,209, 7,345
2004: 8,844, 12,283
2005: 13,066, 9,494
2006: 13,066, 10,849
2007: 12,107, 9,406
2008: 13,066, 9,189
2009: 9,698, 5,213+
2010: 9,530, 5,097+
2011: 9,689, 5,475
(19 games, 9,998 average attendance)
(2 games, 9,424 average attendance)
* Easter Sunday
+ Mother's Day
Oklahoma State (26-17 overall,
11-7 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma (29-17, 9-8)
• Friday (7 p.m., ONEOK Field)
• Saturday (7 p.m., Chickasaw Bricktown
• Sunday (4 p.m., Chickasaw Bricktown
What’s at stake: Both teams need to
win. The Cowboys are tied for third in
the Big 12 standings. The Sooners are
fifth. OSU’s Ratings Percentage Index
is 96th, OU’s is 64th, and it’s long been
speculated that only three or four Big
12 teams will get into the NCAA Tournament
this season. The winner of this
series takes one giant leap forward.
— JOHN E. HOOVER, World Sports Writer
Original Print Headline: Changes coming to Bedlam?
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