It was announced on Tuesday in the BOK Center that after 14 year as owner, Jeff Lund has sold the Tulsa Oilers hockey club to the Wichita based Steven Brothers Sports Management, LLC. The management team also purchased the Wichita Thunder, who are the only remaining original franchise other than the Oilers.
Jeff Lund helmed the Oilers as general manager from the team’s inception in 1992 before purchasing the team outright in 1999. Under his direction, he facilitated the team’s move from the Tulsa Convention Center to the BOK Center in 2008, and 3.5 million fans have enjoyed Oiler hockey in his time with the team. Lund will remain the owner of the Oilers Ice Center and the Tulsa Junior Oilers, a tier III junior hockey team that plays in the Western States Hockey League.
The sale was finalized earlier this week and terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the next chapter of Tulsa Oilers hockey,” said Rodney Steven II. “This franchise has an outstanding history, an extremely loyal fan base, and one of the best arenas in the Central Hockey League. We are looking forward to working closely with Head Coach Bruce Ramsay, as well as the Oilers players and staff to make sure this team has everything it needs to be successful.”
The Steven brothers, well-known business leaders in the Wichita community, own and operate Genesis Health Clubs as well as several car dealerships in the Wichita area. Under the Steven brothers’ ownership, the Wichita Thunder has quickly climbed the ranks of the CHL to become one of the league’s most stable and successful franchises.
In each of their first two years of ownership, the Thunder has advanced to the Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals and posted the CHL’s highest regular season winning percentage (.670) during that span. Now, the Steven brothers have their sights set on restoring the Oilers winning tradition.
“Our first priority is to put a strong, competitive team on the ice,” Brandon Steven said. “We need to win and win consistently. These fans in Tulsa deserve to watch a playoff-caliber team and a team that will compete for championships.”
At the press conference on Tuesday it was confirmed that Head Coach Bruce Ramsay will remain behind the bench. His retention was in question at the end of last season as his contract was up in May of this year. The change in ownership has the coach optimistic about his team for next season.
“Any time a new owner comes in they bring in new resources and a new attitude.” Coach Ramsay said, “Nothing says more about the new owners than where Wichita was compared to where they are now.”
In the months leading up to the start of the season, the Stevens will add to the existing staff in the Oilers front office and use resources to increase the Oilers exposure throughout northeast Oklahoma.
“Nothing would make me and my brothers happier than to see huge crowds packing the BOK Center throughout the upcoming season,” Rodney remarked. “We want to re-energize our existing fans but we also want to make a big push to reach new fans, to attract families, and to let everyone know that Tulsa Oilers hockey is the very best entertainment value in this entire region.”
The Oilers will begin their 22nd season in the Central Hockey League in October.