SPORTS

Calif. minor league hockey team pokes fun at opposing city's bankruptcy

09/19/2012 04:05 EDT | Updated 11/19/2012 05:12 EST
FRESNO, Calif. - A hockey game promotion poking fun at America's largest bankrupt city has caused a tiff between fans and newspaper columnists in California's Central Valley.

The Condors, a Bakersfield minor league hockey team, advertised its game against Stockton Thunder on Dec. 27 as "Our City Isn't Bankrupt Night."

The team promised to give away phoney $1 million bills and a few brand new Rolls Royce automobiles.

"Bakersfield isn't bankrupt, but Stockton is. They're in town and we're going to show them just how much we're rolling in the dough," the original promo said. "We're all about lending a helping hand in Condorstown."

Stockton residents were not amused. The river port city filed for bankruptcy protection in June, making it the largest U.S. city ever to go broke. Stockton was pushed to the brink by high foreclosure rates, expensive investments and generous retiree benefits.

Thunder officials and Stockton columnists tore at their opponent for making fun of the city's financial woes. They called the promo classless and tasteless, even urging a boycott of the game. Flabbergasted fans vented on the teams' Facebook pages.

The promo is not out of character: the Bakersfield team had once put the Stockton Thunder's logo on the end of plungers. It also handed out rolls of toilet paper with a Fresno team's logo on the sheets.

Recently, the team announced that it offered Canadian pop star Justin Bieber a tryout contract.

Condors' officials have since apologized repeatedly for the latest prank, saying they didn't intend to poke fun at people who had lost their jobs.

The team has also changed the promo to "Boomtown Bakersfield night" and is offering a two-for-one ticket sale for employees of any city in recognition of those who may have lost their jobs in Stockton.

The night will still feature phoney $1 million bills and a luxury car giveaway.

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