Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, professional ice hockey has returned to the San Francisco area.
Fifteen years after the lights went down on the city's last failed experiment in professional ice hockey comes the announcement of a new team soon to hit the ice at Daly City's Cow Palace.
The San Francisco Bulls are slated to become the 21st team in the ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League), the primary minor league feeding directly into the National Hockey League.
"We are so excited and proud to provide professional hockey to the San Francisco Bay Area," team owner Pat Curio told the San Francisco Examiner. "The on ice product will be very entertaining and the Cow Palace is the perfect venue for our team."
Curio, who spent a full decade playing in the ECHL himself, will also serve as the team's president, general manager and head coach.
The Bulls join three other California ECHL teams based in Stockton, Bakersfield and Ontario.
Local blog Burrito Justice, while excited about the prospect of ice hockey coming back to San Francisco, wasn't so enthused about the team's choice of name and offered some improvements: the Fog, the Fog Eaters and Sutros.
This isn't the first time that the Cow Palace has played host to pro hockey. From 1961 to 1965, the San Francisco Seals (not to be confused with the minor league baseball team of the same name) made their home in the Daly City arena before moving first to Oakland and then to eventually to Cleveland.
During their first two seasons during the early 1990s, the San Jose Sharks played home games at the Cow Palace before decamping for the stadium formerly known as the San Jose Area, now the HP Pavilion.
Shortly after the Sharks vacated the premises, the San Francisco Spiders took over and played for a single season in the International Hockey League before poor attendance quickly drove the team into bankruptcy.
The Bulls are going to have to quickly mobilize the groundswell of support the Spiders never managed if the team hopes to fill the expansive 11,089-seat arena.
Without being in San Francisco proper like the San Francisco Giants, and without a significant legacy fan base like the 49′ers, the Bulls will have to work hard to get a sizeable group of families and casual fans to make the short 20 minute hop down to Daly City. Marketing and heavy involvement in community and athletic groups in San Francisco should make that job easier. San Francisco is a city that sells itself, absorbing as much of that as possible can only help the Bulls. Blogger and San Francisco resident Marylisa Walsh does not believe that will be a problem. "They will come," she said.
Tickets are currently on sale for games during the Bulls' inaugural 2012-13 season.
Check out this video of what happened the last time there was hockey in the Cow Palace: