For those that don't know, and apparently many don't based on their attendance, the San Francisco Bulls are an ECHL team that currently plays at the Cow Palace just across the city line from San Francisco. They're also the Sharks affiliate in the ECHL since the start of last season having replaced the Stockton Thunder in that role. They started with a fair bit of fanfare last season drawing a strong 8,000+ crowd out to see their inaugural game during the NHL's embarrassing and protracted lockout (see the image below). However as the lockout ended their crowds quickly dwindled and the team lost over $2 million in their first season.
They answered the bell in 2013-14 but have seen their attendance dwindle further to the point that they're now only drawing in an average of a little over 2,000 fans a game and are dead last in the ECHL in attendance virtually tied with Wheeling, West Virginia. They're also projecting further losses of another $2 million this year. All this despite paying for some substantial upgrades to the infrastructure of the decaying Cow Palace such as a new ice system and hanging scoreboard. It seems the Bulls were just not able to overcome the Cow Palace's inherent problems, chief among them it's terrible location and terrible condition. And to make matters worse the Cow Palace management was apparently unwilling to renegotiate the terms of the Bulls lease to anything better and as a result a new ownership group has been found.
If the sale is approved by the league the Bulls will be picking up skates and moving out of the Cow Palace to either Oakland and the Oracle Arena or Fresno and the Save Mart Center. The more likely destination seems to be Fresno as the Warriors would have to sign off on any co-tenancy at Oracle, and thus far they don't seem inclined to do so given that there is no benefit to the Warriors if they allow the Bulls to move in. If the sale is denied the team could be folded as soon as next week, leaving the Sharks to find a new ECHL affiliate.
Regardless though, if you didn't get the chance to take in a Bulls game, you likely missed your chance. Which frankly is unfortunate as the Bulls were a nice cheap alternative for those who wanted to see live hockey but just couldn't afford a Sharks ticket or were from points north where San Jose might be too far away. It was a unique and definitely minor league experience with all the drawbacks but also charm that come from such games, even at the dreary old Cow Palace.