Friday, January 4, 2013

AHL hockey will be in Glens Falls next year 1/4

We knew the Adirondack Phantoms wouldn't begin play in Allentown, Pa., until 2014-15, when their new arena was completed and ready to go, but they never explicitly said where they'd spend 2013-14.

That changed -- sort of -- today, when the Phantoms' owners announced they planned to exercise their lease option and play a fifth season at Glens Falls Civic Center. The news desk handled this one for us, but what the announcement really boils down to is that there will be hockey at the Civic Center.

More than likely, that hockey will come in the form of the Phantoms. The caveat is that if Glens Falls is able to attract a long-term hockey tenant to the Civic Center by April 1, co-owners Jim and Rob Brooks will move the Phantoms elsewhere for 2013-14. Where? Who knows, but it probably won't be Allentown, as they have already publicly said the team won't play there before 2014-15.

But the deadline for Glens Falls to find a new team for a long-term deal is looming, and it seems so unlikely they would be able to do that in three month's time. Co-owner Rob Brooks, in a statement, said there's still some work that both the Phantoms and the city have to do before next season begins.

"The Phantoms organization needs to grow the ticket and corporate base to a level that is enticing to another AHL team and the city needs to continue to market the Glens Falls area to prospective AHL organizations,” he said.

Would you rather that happen in three months or, say, a year and three months? See, all signs point to the Phantoms sticking around for another season. But just for argument's sake, let's say the stars align and Glens Falls is able attract a new team. Where does that leave the Brooks Brothers and Phantoms?

My educated guess would be Atlantic City, N.J., but no one with the Phantoms has ever told me that. It used to have an ECHL team, was the site of last year's AHL All-Star Game and is also home to a Flyers Skate Zone. Albany has also been playing a handful of AHL games at Boardwalk Hall in recent seasons and the Phantoms are going to be the road team for one of them later this month.

Officially, though, the Phantoms say they have made no contingency plans if a new team is found. And this is sort of a unique situation in that the Brooks Brothers are working with the city to attract a new team. The plan was never for the Phantoms to be a permanent team, but rather a mechanism for the city to test the long-term viability of the AHL in the Adirondacks.

"It has always been our goal from year one to help build a model that could entice another AHL team to Glens Falls,” Rob Brooks said.

“We know that this will present a substantial hardship for Rob and Jim if the Phantoms have to relocate for next season, but it shows the commitment they have made to Glens Falls,” city Mayor John "Jack" Diamond said in a statement. "We want to continue our great hockey tradition in Glens Falls. Our community enjoys the entertainment at the arena and professional hockey is a major economic driver for our area and helps many local businesses. Fans can help support our efforts by continuing to attend hockey games and we will continue to work hard to bring high level hockey to our area for the long-term.”

I think that's the take-away. There are some people in the region who think that the Phantoms are quote-unquote blocking a new team from arriving, but the best way to get a new team is by supporting the current one. And right now the Phantoms find themselves last in the AHL with 3,485 fans attending each game. 

The Phantoms say they'll begin a season ticket drive in the coming weeks and will either refund purchases or transfer them to a new team if one arrives.

More after tonight's game at Connecticut.



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