Condors owner Jonathan Fleisig, who lives in New York, was in town last week and set aside time to talk with concerned season ticket holders last Saturday night prior to a game against Colorado.
The Condors missed the playoffs last season and are on the verge of missing them for the second straight year, a situation that Fleisig, who watches most of the games on the internet, said is "beyond wearing" on him.
The Californian caught up with Fleisig by phone after he returned to New York and asked for his assesment of his conversations with fans, his thoughts on the hockey side of the business and where he goes from here.
You met with season ticket holders for more than two hours prior to the Feb. 2 game. How did that go and what did you get out of it?
I got a lot out if it. People work hard for their money. They care about the Condors, are frustrated and have the right to say whatever they want to say.
I think they said it. They had the opportunity to ask questions and the opportunity to listen to responses to questions other people brought up.
I made phone calls to season ticket holders beforehand from New York, to a bunch of people, and sometimes the conversations lasted an hour.
The thing is, there are things I need to learn. Things that unless you live in Bakersfield 24/7 you're not going to know about.
Between the phone calls and the 2Â½-hour session, I asked people to email me with their thoughts and concerns and I've got tons of them. I even got one power point presentation.
My responsibility is to take in all the information, chew on it and think up a better course of action for the Condors.
If someone buys season tickets it's like they own a percentage of the team. The bottom line is it's their team and I gotta listen to what they say.
In terms of overall feelings they have and what's important to them I have a plethora of emails that are so well written that I owe it to them to read them, soak in the content and figure out what is the best play for the Condors and where I go from there.
At the end of the season or playoff time or whenever it is I'll come back and have 75 emails with every suggestion on a spread sheet and go over them with the staff.
The Condors struggled last season and did not make the playoffs, and are struggling again this season. Is that the biggest concern of the fan base?
Absolutely. Some of the more interesting questions I got were about affiliations and why players don't stick around.
I have to point out this is a developmental league, not a league where the same guys will be here year after year.
I got asked why can't we have guys like (former Condor and fan favorite ) Paul Rosebush. I'd love to have 18 Rosebushes but the truth is you're going to get guys like Mark Derlago or Stu Bickel, who I now watch with the Rangers, go to the next level.
You talked about cost cutting with the season ticket holders and some things the Condors have done in that area, such as closing the off-site merchandise store. Some of the savings on the hockey side have been by having mostly single, non-married players. I know that non-married players are less expensive to house than married guys and there is a concern with older players and veterans and potential workers comp issues, but has what happened the past couple of years changed your thinking on cost savings in those areas.
It's one of the biggest things I have to examine. Obviously the path I've chosen was incorrect, I made a mistake. At the end of the day every time somebody is upset with a loss, or somebody gets a T-shirt with (inferior) lettering or a hat that is not right it is my fault.
In terms of how many veterans, if we should have any, I'm going to take all that in and then I have to make a decision.
I can tell you the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. I will not make the same mistakes again. The mark of a good trader, and hopefully a good owner, is someone who can adapt.
One of the ways we've been around for 16 years is by adapting. There are no (minor league) teams in Phoenix, Long Beach, Fresno, San Diego or Tacoma (all former members of the West Coast Hockey League or the ECHL). Everybody else has gone out of business.
So being in a town where its 110 degrees in the summer and still in business with an ice hockey team shows we've adapted pretty well.
What we're lacking and what people are dying for is being a winner. I will figure out the best path to accomplish that. It's not the path I've taken.