Adirondack Thunder pulls out of ECHL season; Five others follow suit

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GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Adirondack Hockey Coalition and Adirondack Civic Center Coalition announced on Wednesday that, after months of moving back the start date and hoping for the best, the line had been drawn; the Adirondack Thunder will not play in the ECHL’s 2020-21 hockey season.

In a statement online, the coalitions said that they weren’t alone. The ECHL’s north division is comprised of six teams, including Adirondack, Worcester, Maine, Reading, Brampton and Newfoundland. None of those six teams will be able to play, due to COVID-19 restrictions continuing to keep fans out of arenas like Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.

“We were hopeful that government restrictions would ease up as we approached the time we needed to declare our formal intentions for the season,” the statement says. “Unfortunately, we are unable to have any fans in attendance for the foreseeable future and cannot sustain a season without fans.”

Cool Insuring Arena has 16 full-time employees. Of those, 13 have been furloughed since April. That number may not sound high, but added to are EMT workers, concessions workers, and all the otehrs who are brought in just for events. Arena manager Jeff Mead puts the number of those workers at around 100 people.

“They’re all unable to work, because we have no events” Mead said. “Certainly not a great situation.”

The season off also means that Adirondack Thunder teammates have an opportunity to seek out employment elsewhere in the hockey realm, should they choose.

“Hopefully, the ones that want to will be able to get a new contract,” Mead said.

The arena is facing expenses ahead through the winter, even without fans in the stands. The arena is asking any fans willing to donate their hockey ticket money to the Keep Hockey Here campaign, which will gather funds to ensure the Thunder will play again once it’s safe.

Mead said some kids hockey teams have been allowed to use the arena for practice, and the ice will be maintained as long as they use it.

Also still in play are leaky spots on the arena roof. The arena is operated by the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, but owned by the city of Glens Falls. Mead said the city is handling work on the roof, separate from whatever happens with hockey.

Those interested in making a donation can email Mead at jmead@echlthunder.com.

Otherwise, existing ticketholder payments will be moved ahead to the 2021-22 season, which will be priced the same and go on sale on Dec. 1.

“We had worked on numerous contingency plans to socially distance fans and to ensure a clean, safe environment, and to fully abide by all state-imposed guidelines,” the release says. “We were ready to play at a 50% capacity, knowing it would be difficult to operate at that capacity.”

Earlier in the year, the plan had been for the Adirondack Thunder to start their season in mid-January.

The arena can be reached by phone at 518-480-3355 x 319.

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