The Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL are at it again - and this time, one of their wacky promotions has led to major backlash from fans and media in nearby Stockton.
The Condors - yes, the very same ones who offered Justin Bieber an amateur tryout contract earlier this month - have drawn more attention to themselves after ripping into rival Stockton and the city's bankruptcy situation.
The promotion, originally called "Our City Isn't Bankrupt Night," was designed to generate buzz heading into the teams' Dec. 27 tilt. But fans of the Thunder were far from amused upon learning of the promotion, which includes the distribution of phoney $1 million bills and a contest for some Rolls Royce automobiles.
"Bakersfield isn't bankrupt, but Stockton is," the original promo boasted. "They're in town and we're going to show them just how much we're rolling in the dough. We're all about lending a helping hand in Condorstown."
Stockton filed for bankruptcy over the summer after a series of bad management decisions left the California city of 300,000 people with no money to pay city employees or pensioners. It's the largest U.S. city to ever declare bankruptcy.
This is not the first time Bakersfield has resorted to juvenile tactics in its rivalry with Stockton. According to the Associated Press report, the club once gave away plungers and toilet paper stamped with the Thunder logo.
This time, the joke went too far in the eyes of many Stockton supporters. Local columnists called the promotion "classless" while some fans went so far as to contact Bakersfield sponsors to voice their displeasure.
"I can't say I was the first one to do it, but I wanted to take action," Stockton season-ticket holder Raymond Mahnke told the Record-Net. "I targeted sponsors that I thought would be sympathetic to the cause. I will stop contacting sponsors, but this was not funny. I know I won't go to a game in Bakersfield this season."
The Condors have since altered their original promotion and are now labeling the showdown "Boomtown Bakersfield Night." and will be offering 2-for-1 deals for any city employee. Bakersfield GM Matthew Riley had this to say on the team's website:
“The promotion was never meant to poke fun at those who are struggling due to Stockton’s financial situation. So that this promotion isn’t further misinterpreted, we want to put the focus of the night to highlight the city of Bakersfield’s success and the continued growth of the city.”
Thunder president Dan Chapman said the original promo never should have been put together in the first place, but credited Riley with "shifting the focus."
The Condors will still be giving away $1 million bills and new Rolls-Royce automobiles.