GLENS FALLS -- Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond said Wednesday the time has come to consider an option he once said he would never consider: Close the Glens Falls Civic Center.

“It’s too early to push the panic button right now,” Diamond said in an interview at City Hall.

But if the city is not able to recruit a new American Hockey League tenant by April 2014, city officials will consider that option, he said.

Paul Pontiff, president of the Glens Falls Civic Center Foundation, a volunteer support organization, said he hopes the city doesn’t have to face that decision.

“I would hate to see something like that happen. And I’m still hopeful that among all of us we would be able to generate enough interest to have another team here from the AHL,” he said.

Diamond said that right now, the outlook for recruiting another AHL team does not look promising.

“I’ve made some calls, but my calls have not been returned,” he said.

Diamond said he sees little chance of recruiting a new team unless there is support for the Adirondack Phantoms next season.

The Phantoms, which have made the Civic Center its home ice for the past four seasons, are expected to relocate for the 2014-15 season to a new arena being built in Allentown, Pa.

Amid the uncertainty of the future of hockey, support for the team has lagged.

Chris Porreca, the team’s executive vice president, said Tuesday that season ticket sales were at about 35 percent overall of where they were at this time last year.

Diamond said that corporate sponsorships for next season are also off sharply.

Hockey fans have told him they are disgruntled with the caliber of the team and with the uncertainty about the future, but the reality is that unless ticket sales and sponsorships improve, no other ownership group will consider the Civic Center, he said.

Diamond said his decision to consider closing the arena is not a ploy to increase ticket sales.

He said he will continue efforts to recruit another team, and if a team is not recruited by the end of next season in April 2014, city officials will conduct an analysis of options for the arena that would include closing it or seeking to attract some other type of anchor tenant, such as a professional basketball team.

This is assuming Diamond is re-elected to a second four-year term in November. Diamond is running for re-election, but does not have opposition, so far.

Diamond said city officials would hold public forums, similar to when the city decided several years ago to hire a private firm to manage the arena.

“We’re going to engage the public,” he said.

Diamond, at one point in the past, said he would never close the Civic Center.

In December 2010, 3rd Ward Councilman Scott Watson suggested the city should consider closing the arena if the city subsidy was not dramatically decreased in a few years.

Diamond said at that time he would not consider closing the arena.

“I want to clear the air on that, That’s not an option for me,” he said at the time, referring to closing the building.

Diamond said Wednesday his position has changed because of the state tax cap and because of the financial condition of the city.

The city budget simply can’t absorb any dramatic increase in subsidy to the city-owned arena, he said.

A $605,360 subsidy from the city’s general fund is budgeted for 2013.

The subsidy likely would increase dramatically without hockey, which accounts for a large block of the arena’s events.

Pontiff, of the Civic Center Foundation, said he remains hopeful city officials will recruit a new AHL team.

“And I think until we find out that’s a dead issue, we need to keep moving in that direction, because I think it’s extremely important for the community that the Civic Center remain a viable facility within the area,” he said.

Pontiff said there may be multiple reasons why season ticket sales and corporate sponsorships are lagging.

“Perhaps the economy has something to do with it,” he said. “But I think also that people look at this team as a temporary fix, basically, for the team ownership. ... I think the community may look at this as something which they can’t get their arms around in terms of this team.”

The caliber of play is another factor, he suggested.

In four seasons in Glens Falls, the Phantoms have not made the playoffs, he said.

Diamond said he will continue to attempt to recruit a team.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., during a visit to Granville on Tuesday, offered to assist the city with its recruitment effort, Diamond said.

David Andrews, president and chief executive officer of the AHL, said it’s premature to speculate about the city’s chances of recruiting a new team for the 2014-15 season.

“The critical thing, at least from our perspective, is that the business needs to remain strong there,” he said.

He wouldn’t rule out Glens Falls recruiting another team.

“Depending on where people are looking and what’s available in terms of markets, I think Glens Falls is still a viable market,” he said.

Post-Star hockey writer Diana Nearhos contributed to this report.

(61) comments

newshound

dumbest thing the city ever did was build this mess..no parking lot/garage...tore town an entire city block of businesses... close and rip it down and build some buildings along route 9 already. and there must be a way to get rid of that burger king...eminent domain, etc..

Solomon112

I'm sorry, but do these owners really expect fans to pay to watch such a lackluster team year after year?? Bring a quality franchise and you'd end up with butts in the seats.

VileWeed
VileWeed

For the first time in 30 years, I will be voting in Glens Falls this year to be sure I do my part to ensure this clown loses.

5756917

Thirty years? For real? Be ashamed! Bulldoze this space and put the property on the tax roles.....instead of paying into it, it can put money back in the city! I am tired of paying exorbitant taxes so a few can watch a second rate team!

pfenton

There "aint" anybody running against him so don't waste your vote!

beyond - belief

General maintenance on the building has been deplorable, unpainted rusted trusses, outdated, poorly kept up slate floor in foyer ect. Half hearted attempts at bringing the center to the 21st century, terrible video boards, outdated lighting ect. Now mix in a less than productive team, year after year, and you have all the makings of a closed civic center. Mr. Mayor the team you can not control, however the building you can. If the response is that upgrades are not affordable, then the city can not afford to keep the center open. I would think it would make more sense to sell the center, even at a fire sale price, the city would benefit from no longer paying operating cost, aprox. 500 k a year plus whatever they get for building.

smpotter

I didn't think the mayor would stoop this low. Please let Senator Schumer intercede because its obvious the mayor is clueless. I guess the master plan put forth by the Brook's and embraced by the mayor has not worked so well has it? Its worked for the Brook's brothers, they've done quite well for themselves. What a coincidence! Ticket sales are lagging for next year and the mayor says the GFCC might have to close. Could it be any more obvious?

keith lou

Maybe if you,Mr.Mayor,would get out of the Brokks Brothers bed things would happen here.You and only you are to blame if a team can not bo found!!

Resident of GF
Resident of GF

Closing the civic center shouldn't even be an option. I think the idea of a basketball team rather than hockey teams may be the exciting change the area needs. Have more concerts, and events there. Think of all the people the HS games brought into the center and GF area. I'm sure all the hotels were packed in March. Brainstorm!

5756917

The problem with concerts is that the building was never designed for them. The acoustics are horrible!

Resident of GF
Resident of GF

I agree with that. I have been to a concert at the civic center and it was not very good. Maybe they can fix it?

AlJensen

REALLY?!! Close the GFCC! This would kill and rebirth in downtown. This has to be the dumbest thing the mayor has said in his tenure in office. With comments like this I hope someone does run against him.

Let's be honest, the Phantoms have been horrible during thier run here. It is amazing the team draws 3,500 a night with the product we have seen on the ice.

smpotter

Finally, the fans of hockey are speaking up! The Brooks Brothers and the mayor are trying to put the final nail in the coffin of AHL hockey in Glens Falls. They are both asleep at the switch and it appears they are in bed together!

Jonny

Maybe Jack should have given the center to the Rangers. The property would have gone back on the tax rolls, we'd have a decent team that drew fans, and have gotten the upgrades the center drastically needs. I take it he passed on that deal? Typical choice for the city. Maybe now they will tear it down and put in a used car lot... or a McD's to compliment the BK.

5756917

not a fan of BK, however....the developer that put those buildings (CC Plaza) up.... tried to include a parking garage....the city was FAR too shortsighted! At least BK pays taxes.....CC costs the taxpayers!

Smarterthanyou2013

While he is trying to reelect what a joke!

AdkMamaBear

We keep hearing that Diamond has "made a few phone calls" to recruit another team. Really? Sounds pathetically weak. The current team has been awful, the video boards are almost useless. Yet, I still go to hockey. It's great for the area. Where is the leadership who will make things happen??

theMaven

Why wait for a third rate team with a forth rate attitude?


CLOSE IT NOW!


We've been talking about a rebirth of glens Falls since this monstrosity went in, like it is some sort of voo-doo. With a few hockey games, basketball once a year and a ratty bunch of B grade concerts, glens Falls magically is reborn. BS!


Glens falls will be reborn when we get a key tenant in there, or a critical mass of real retailers, not the low traffic boutique types that plague the city. Bulldoze the center, what meager income we get is offset by additional upkeep, which will only get worse. Sell the land to highest bidder, no funny tax business either, get it back on the tax base and let real business take over, plenty of land for a key tenant and parking.

Urban renewal and the Cronin administration murdered the city, maybe the new blood has the brains and courage to start to resuscitate the dead corpse?

5756917

AMEN!

something is wrong

I reckon so!

something is wrong

Come on , Moe Larry and Curly are working very hard. Warren County reads like a comic strip today.

lifelong

I am the owner of a business in Glens Falls.
I have supported the Phantoms and the City by buying a pair of seasons tickets and doing advertising with the organization. I have attended most of the games since the team has been here (and the Red Wings decades ago). I really do not think it is fair to constantly berate the fans for not buying seasons tickets.....it seems to me that the whole thing is turned upside down. If I don't have customers spending their hard earned money with me, although it would be convenient to blame them for my troubles, it really seems to me the business owner has to take a long look in the mirror and figure out how to keep them coming back (unless they really don't care that much). I don't blame the young players in a development league for their lackluster record, but it seems the Brooks Brothers or the Flyers need to step up and take responsibility for being a "lame duck" team that has not yet played a playoff game in four years.

5756917

This business owner (the city) is taking a long hard look in the mirror and has decided that closing down the civic center is now an option. It's about time.

Go Phish

Next year is the 20th anniversary of Phish 10/31/94 at the Civic Center. 20th anniversary show, please. Get the ball rolling and get in contact with their management!

kjo2009

Where are we going to walk now???? Lol!

scott1971

wow blackmailing the public, trying to force us to buy tickets? not likely

Oilman6

Close the place
It is nothing but a money pit.

Glens Falls Kaz

We are far overdue to close the civic center- We would be far better off to work with state wide elected officials to replace it with a state office building. Imagine the economic boost to have 600 employees eating and shopping 52 weeks a year!

DWBoca

The Phantoms are a terribly run organization that cares not one bit for the fans in Glens FallsTheir tenure here has been a debacle. It says a lot about the fans who've come and continue to come. Binghamton has a smaller venue yet has better attendance. That is due to their organization being committed to the community and the fans. Not looking down the road at what's coming. People will come to hockey in town but after a while you get sick of third rate giveaways poor promotions canceling g events with no notice and a lackadaisical organization. As far as razing the Civic center. That's just asinine.and it's a cry of ineptness from the current administration .

selectivenews

It is time for the city to begin realizing hockey will not be he savior of the civic center. Trade shows will give the city some breathing room but it is time to repurpose that building to continue bringing people to the city. Make it a point of destination every night not just 3 nights a week.

pfenton

Sell the dam thing! It's a" white elephant" and should have been sold years ago when the Red Wings left! Let someone else develop that property and put it back on the tax rolls.Paying over 600 grand a year to subsidize that thing is ludicrous! Let those "hockey pucks" go up on Fire Road to watch hockey games!

doug900

Typical politician! And, It's quite obvious the non-hockey fans just came out of the cracks to blast the civic center! Probably football fans (biggest waste of cowhide)!

5756917

No, Doug, not a "non-hockey fan"----I am tired of paying the high taxes to support this albatross.

doug900

So, how do your Glens Falls tax's compare to my over-inflated Washington county tax's? I'm sure it isn't even close. At least Glens falls has industry to offset tax's, we have basically nothing, and pay for it!

smpotter

Finally we now know what the mayor and the Brooks brothers business model is: Operate the worst AHL franchise in the league, take advantage of a small but loyal fan base for as long as possible, blackmail them into buying season tickets for a lame duck team- and finally cap it off with threatening to shut the CC down! Fan Appreciation Night? We deserve an apology from the Brooks brothers, the mayor and the Flyers for ruining hockey forever in Glens Falls.

creamy jugs

Don't close the Civic Center. That's not the answer. There's other ways around funding this, or a private sale, that could breathe life into the place. I agree about the video boards, not sure who's brainchild that was, as they are barely viewable - you need LED screens in that space - that was a waste of money. The mayor does need to focus in and put some serious effort into recruiting a new AHL team there - but the AHL won't pay that much heed unless people keep going to the games. Granted, the Phantoms have had a tough run at it there, but we can't constantly blame a team - they've beaten the best in the league several times. It would cost more than the $600K to tear the place down, and it can be a money maker if marketed properly. Concerts could be better if the ceiling was treated acoustically. It's the best arena to watch hockey in, anywhere. It's a fun and easy place to go for all other events. It's been there for us, let's be there for it.

Adk10176

Everyone talks about how much money the GFCC costs to run. Here's a question for you.... How much money does this building bring into this small city we live in that these small businesses wouldn't see. With or without hockey it's a valuable asset to our community.

5756917

Office space/ retail would bring in a consistent level of business that our current proprietors can plan(order) for.

brian

It’s cute that all the hockey fanboys from Olmstedville, Queensbury and Corinth want GF city taxpayers to subsidize their entertainment choices, but I’m glad the mayor is remembering who he’s elected to represent. If the city taxpayer subsidy is $600,000 with a hockey team, what’s it going to be without?

I’ve done my part. I’ve had season tickets for every year the Phantoms have been in GF. I’ve also been forced to subsidize the building for decades with my tax money. I and other city taxpayers have done enough. If fans from other communities want to keep the building open, let them contribute their own cash rather than “volunteering” mine.

brian

The bottom line is that it will be very difficult to get an AHL team to replace the Phantoms and the mayor’s right to explore plan B. Though I’ve had season tickets every year simply because I love hockey and want to support it, fans haven’t really taken to the team because they know it’s only temporary and because the team’s been horrible every year they’ve been here (except last year when they were almost competitive... only for the front office chumps to fire the coach). It’s not the fault of area residents they don’t want to $25 a pop or $600 a year to watch awful hockey in the nebulous hope that it might prompt another team to come. It was always naive to think that bells and whistles like expensive and useless video boards were going to be the magic bullet. Sadly, I suspect most potential replacement teams are going to just see “GF: lost team in ’99, didn’t support team from ’09-14” and not look too closely at the details.

hockey

Wait,wait,wait, Where are all the people who wanted front page attention with the new huge hotel and catwalk across Glen st. to the thriving civic center?.Downtown isnt thriving at all.Keep putting zero effort into a team and this is exactly what you get.Tthe flyers and their minor league teams used to be powerful proud teams now look at them.They trade away good players and continue to fall in the standings. I realize the minors are for teaching but anyone can finish last.they should be ashamed of themselves.If they put in just an avaerage effort, the team could turn it around for next year. The problem is that same ole routine with the same management issues. Get the plywood ready, this is so very very sad. If albany can survive with 3000 fans we should be able to also. We need someone who REALLY cares all the time, not just at election time.

smpotter

What exactly was the mayor's Plan A? Sounds like it was to listen to everything the Brook's brother's said and never properly develop a formal plan to seek out and try an attract a replacement team on behalf of the city. I'd like to hear some of the details. We know what Plan B is- close the CC. Hopefully at some point there will be a public forum to discuss the issue. The CC is a great place to watch hockey but its in serious need of upgrades and improvements. Its obvious that the mayor is not up to the task and has given up.Thats if he really ever tried, which I seriously doubt. Hopefully, some of the downtown business owners will join the discussion.

keith lou

This city will support AHL hockey.Are you kidding me,3500+ for 4years of these bums.A winner and better organization would bring even more people in.You,(John/Jack,Brooks Bums)can not expect to get more people to watch this crap,do you think we are all idiots?.I will agree that the expense should be shared with neighboring towns and counties,but that wont happen,its all up to the GF "leadership"to lead the way and get another team.A couple phone calls,THATS IT!!! Come on man!! Get on the ball here and NOW!!!!

sasquatch

Unfortunately, running the Civic Center is like supporting Abraham Wing's superintendent, principal, teachers, and overhead. The Civic Center is a pride, but sell it at top market, even if Dubai buys it. Just NOT that nasty country that's been in the news. You know who. Sell it, and use the money to pad surplus and lower taxes for several years. And immediately cut out the lame duck overhead. Then go work on the Abraham Wing clique.

brian

Maybe the mayor should hand out to prospective owners copies of Mike Kane's book Minor in Name Only... as evidence that the city can support (and has) hockey if it's done right.

brian

Incidentally, studies have shown that the economic impact of sports venues to a region are almost always overstated. Aside probably from the state basketball tournament, I doubt the Civic Center brings in much NEW money to the region's businesses. It just redirects people's entertainment dollars from one area business to another. Instead of spending $40 to go to a movie at the mall and dinner at Olive Garden, it's spent on a hockey ticket and dinner at Davidson's. Really just a shell game that's not worth millions to construct and millions more than have been spent subsidizing it over the years. Put it back on the property tax rolls. If it really is such a great regional asset, then let the three counties join in and split the subsidy four ways.

ss98371

What about an ECHL team or even a team from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League? That's smarter than just closing the whole thing.

brian

I don’t think the numbers add up. Because it’s a lower level of hockey, the ECHL club would be getting less revenue and lower ticket prices. This might be okay for the club with lower salary costs. But as a result, the city would be getting less sales tax revenue and ticket surcharge revenue plus certainly a much lower lease payment. But the fixed costs of operating the building (lights, staffing, electricity) would be mostly the same whether there are 1500 ECHL fans or 4000 AHL fans. Remember, we tried lower level hockey with the Icehawks/Frostbite and they didn’t make any more either and folded. If everyone’s losing money now, I don’t see how this would work.

Melissa
Melissa

I think the Tax burden for the building should be shared with the County, it is a building that is utilized by many, not just City residents.

Phantom16

Really, tear it down and add some more empty buildings to Glens Falls. There is no money in this town. Our elected leaders are clueless, and the management at the CC is poor. Remember they had all these acts they could book for the center,and we maybe get extra show every three months. Alot of lazy people about to bring about the demise of the center. Dont let the mayor fool you, the Calagary Flames had intrestin the Civic Center big time, and the only competition was Utica, and thier dump the AUD. Yet, Mr Mayor, Mr Esche from Utica is out working you big time. He has a bad economy town, a lowsy arena,but seems to be making waves with the Flames. The CC is a piece of the city, that is not being worked properly. I also pay taxes in GF. The Center needs to stay,and be worked by people who will actually do some work.

politicoQB
politicoQB

Maven: "fourth rate."
Beyondbelief: "etc."

theMaven

Guys, i think you're all missing the point. It is a nice building, if we could afford it.


We can't, especially today.

The idea of the counties paying their share has been around since day one, but they are smart, why waste their money when GF is stupid enough to pay it all?

We are the laughing stock of the region. How about a regional hospital, don't see the region lining up to help the city. How about a children's museum that costs 30-40 bucks a head for every kid who can find it, or a boutique school system, or housing complexes for old and poor, or plays, or.........

Christ, glens Falls is turning into a drug and assault slum city of drunks and worse, we don't have the money or will to enforce zoning or police the convenience stores, and some people are whining they want to watch hockey????

Remember "as ye do unto the least of my subjects, ye do unto me"?

I don't think Jesus meant ignore the poor and go watch hockey, damn people, get your priorities straight.

TheVoiceOfReasonIsHere
TheVoiceOfReasonIsHere

It's not about watching hockey, it's about a quality of life and a forum where hundreds of thousands of kids have competed, spent family time, and attended graduations.

The solution to preventing Glens Falls from turning into a "drug and assault slum city of drunks and worse" is not to take away the things that attract working people and self supporting tax payers to stay or move here so that we can in turn become a destination for the people you referred to.

I see a problem with subsidizing the operations but before you default to the last resort how about looking at any of the other favorable options that keep the Civic Center operating. I don't think it's for everyone but there are plenty of things I don't use but gladly support and contribute to so that we can maintain a decent city that attracts the right people.

smpotter

Have any of you people calling for the closure of the CC ever attended games there? It is an asset, if properly run , which is not. This particular mayor does not have a clue as to how to run a city. Yes, the CC costs money, but if properly managed it could generate revenue. A long term tenant for 7 months helps. So do trade shows and concerts. The CC hosted a lot of great shows by big name acts back in the day. Same acoustics as today. The group that runs the building now is hooked up with the Brook's and doesn't give a crap about GF or the CC. Utica is trying to get a team because they had one and lost and know what it does for a community. If we had a team and ownership that cared, the CC would be packed like the old says and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

5756917

as a season ticket holder......I've been to a few.....TEAR IT DOWN! I am tired of paying for it!

smpotter

Let's hear something, anything from the Brook's brothers, they are mighty silent these days. I bet they are at least breaking even and where would they be without GF and the 3500 that have filled the place for 4 years and bought, food, beer, merchandise, etc. God knows they don't spend any money on give-aways- they are all paid for by the sponsors. Even some NHL teams give tickets to select future games when people buy tickets as part of a promotion. The Brooks have NEVER had a $5 or$10 ticket for games, even though they would get it back in fans buying stuff. Almost everyone that works for them is an intern and they work hard. They haven't tried to make this work because they don't care and it takes money to make money. Believe me, they haven't lost money but the city has. Whats that business model again? The fans here are great in spite of the fact that the team is lousy. And what do we get- we get blamed for not selling out the CC. Their operating costs are probably the lowest in the AHL so they are doing just fine.

patcher

Great idea Mayor. Tear it down, close all the bars on south street and re-name the city "ghost town USA". How about a huge gun show in the cc, oh no, us dems can't do that - too many people and it's not politically correct. How 'bout another photo op for chucky? Have him up to declare GF the arts capital of the north? I think you and your staff should travel down the road to Saratoga for a lesson in how to make a buck.

principalstrapp

You can keep hockey & the Civic center open. Just be part of Section II Athletics;Incorporate .They find money in lock boxes, have huge fees to schools, they can put their office in the Civic Center verses the one down town Saratoga at 1,500 a month. They could close it. CIVIC CENTER becomes part of Section II. Talk to that Superintendent. He's quite a problem solver I see.

grathan

While I do think the arena is a dump with uncomfortable seating with poor acoustics and cannot stand hockey, the city is gonna take maximum taxes from you people whether it goes to something unique like an arena or wasted on other mayor's checks written for dumb things.

tweiner81

why is it the Glens Falls Civic Center? why isnt it the Verizon Center, the Post Star Center? the Tribune Center? why hasent the people who manage this place sold the naming rights? there is a Styx Concert coming up! where is the advertising? there is none on Albany Radio! there is no Print adds in the Albany market! there is another concert coming up, it was in the Post Star this week. there is no adds for that. the secret is that you have to actually advertise that there is something going on! and finally, Why arent there concerts there monthly? there are tours that could go there monthly? the management is missing the boat no advertising and no events, no wonder its failing!

doug900

I wonder how things would look, had the Redwings stuck around (thanks Detroit for pulling that plug!). And, as far as season ticket sales, can you say "Bad economy"? I went to a game recently and recieved a price list of season tickets, wow, I nearly dropped! I can just afford to live, let alone shelling out for even the cheapest seats! And, what was this talk I heard about a Rangers farm team? Just talk?

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