After a week of negotiations with a potential new owner’s group and ECHL league meetings all last week, The San Francisco Bulls, ECHL affiliate of the the San Jose Sharks, announced today that they would cease operations. In a letter addressed to season ticket holders, Head Coach and General Manager Pat Curcio said “the team was hoping to secure new ownership, however the terms of an updated deal were unable to be finalized, cancelling the remainder of the season.”
Curcio went on to say, “We had a great opportunity come to us that would’ve kept the Bulls in San Francisco at least through the end of the 2014 season, with potential for future seasons, but we ran out of time to complete all ends of the deal. At this point, the best thing to do financially is to reluctantly end the season. We will miss playing here, miss our fans, and miss the city.”
Last week, in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, it was revealed that the team was in financial trouble, with losses reaching over 2 million dollars. A variety of factors contributed to the financial woes, including difficulties with the Cow Palace management, low attendance, the high cost of San Francisco and costly renovations that were needed to the Cow Palace arena.
The hope was for the team to finish out the season at the Cow Palace with a new ownership group, or move to Oakland or Fresno. The ECHL Western Conference is already a small pool with only 9 teams in the entire Conference. The loss of the Bulls is greater than just to the fans, it is a loss for the entire hockey community.