The management of a minor league hockey team apparently thought it would be funny to hold an “Our City Isn’t Bankrupt” promotion for when the Stockton Thunder come to town on Dec. 27. But when few thought that mocking people’s financial difficulties is less than hilarious, the team, the Bakersfield Condors, changed its mind. However, the insensitive promotion may affect the teams’ longstanding rivalry.

The proposed theme was a reference to the City of Stockton’s decision to declare bankruptcy in June. The city’s financial problems are due in part to Lehman Brother’s mismanagement of bonds meant to pay for pensions for retired employees.

The Condors announced the theme night on Sep. 12. The idea quickly offended Thunder fans and other Stockton residents who have gone through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Many of them contacted the Condors’ sponsors, which included local police and firefighter unions in Bakersfield.

After about a week, the Condors got the message. Management announced on Sep. 20 that it was changing the promotion to “Boomtown Bakersfield,” an apparently more subtle jab at Stockton.

The Thunder were formed in 2005 and quickly developed a rivalry with the Condors. Fans from Stockton routinely travelled to Bakersfield to cheer on their team. But now many fans are rethinking bringing their dollars to Bakersfield. The head of the booster club said she was disappointed in the Condors and said she has not decided whether to go to the game this year. Another fan swore he would not go. “This was not funny,” he said.

Source: Stockton Record, “Bakersfield backs off bankruptcy-jab hockey promotion,” Scott Linesburgh, Sep. 20, 2012