Operating a minor-league franchise in a major-league city is tough. On Jan. 27, the not-quite-2-year-old San Francisco Bulls abruptly folded midseason, disbursing players and team officials hither and yon throughout the world of small-time hockey.
Also scattered into the winds: past-due bills. As a matter of full disclosure, several officials on the business side of the San Francisco Print Media Co. confirm the paper you're now reading and its fellow publications are still owed some $25,000 by a nonexistent hockey team.
That, however, is a small fraction of what the state of California is out. Ken Alstott, the CEO of the state-owned Cow Palace, says the Bulls are in arrears to the tune of $150,000 — "and the state will take steps to protect its assets."
What steps those are he declined to say at this time. He did note, however, that aggrieved season ticket-holders are calling the Cow Palace every day.
Those with fonder recollections of the fleeting Bulls era may wish to visit the team's eBay site. Once there, shoppers can invest startling sums of money — upwards of $600 in some cases — for game-used jerseys worn by little-known minor league hockey players or the rainbow flag unfurled on-ice by team mascot Rawhide during LGBT Night.
Team founder and president Pat Curcio tells SF Weekly he has no hand in the eBay endeavor; the two former employees behind that are erstwhile team CFO Angela Batinovich and onetime-director of ticket services Ben Coleman. Neither could or would say how the few dozen hockey-related items on sale were selected or where the material is being housed. Batinovich did, however, disappoint anyone hoping to put in a bid on a Zamboni: "The Cow Palace owns one and the other was returned," she writes.
Alas. Rawhide isn't listed for sale either, even if his former accoutrements are.
Neither Batinovich nor Coleman deigned to answer much, and certainly didn't address the most pressing question of all: Just who is benefiting from the sale of Bulls paraphernalia? Alstott knows who isn't — him. The last payment the Cow Palace received was on Jan. 15, and he hasn't spoken with team management since the end of that month.
The eBay page, however, is larded with testimonials from far more satisfied individuals than the man left holding the Bulls' bag. "Great transaction from one of the best out there"; "Thank you! Great item and team"; and "Excellent transaction — will buy from [sic] again and again." True to his word, this customer purchased 18 items on March 4 alone. Among them was the game-used LGBT flag.
Alstott — and others — take note: It fetched $210.27.