GLENS FALLS -- Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond, a Democrat, has directed the Adirondack Phantoms to include a disclaimer on game-night advertising that Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny’s campaign purchased, making it clear that the city is not endorsing his candidacy.
“The building needs to be politically neutral,” Diamond said Wednesday in an interview at City Hall.
The disclaimer must be included in public address announcements at the Phantoms game on Saturday, and before Doheny participates in a ceremonial puck drop during the pregame festivities, he said.
The Doheny campaign paid $3,000 for a package that includes advertising and a block of discounted tickets for Saturday’s game, said Jude Seymour, a Doheny campaign spokesman.
The package includes public address announcements at the Phantoms home games, one that occurred on Oct. 13 and one scheduled for Saturday, an on-ice appearance by Doheny in a ceremonial puck drop on Saturday, and display of a 4-foot by 8-foot campaign sign at the Civic Center, in the hallway outside the Phantoms management office.
The number of tickets will be on an “as needed” basis, Seymour said.
The campaign is coupling the advertising with a campaign fundraiser.
For a donation of $50, contributors can attend a pregame reception at Samantha’s Cafe and Catering on Broad Street on Saturday, and receive a ticket to the game.
Doheny, an investment fund manager from Watertown, is running on Nov. 6 against U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Green Party candidate Donald Hassig in the new 21st Congressional District, which includes Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties.
Diamond said he feels that political advertising at the Glens Falls Civic Center, the city-owned arena where the Phantoms play, is inappropriate, but he cannot stop it because the city does not have a specific policy banning it in the building.
Diamond said he will ask the city Common Council to develop a policy for the future specifying what type of political activity, if any, is permitted at the Civic Center.
Diamond said he doesn’t object to political candidates walking the concourse during hockey games and greeting people, but he feels that overt political advertising is inappropriate.
Seymour, the Doheny campaign spokesman, said the criticism from Diamond, a Democrat who has endorsed Owens, is politically motivated.
Diamond said that’s not true, that he would be concerned about political advertising at the arena by candidates of any political party.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has participated in ceremonial puck drops in the past.
Diamond said that was different because Schumer was not in the midst of a political campaign at the time. Schumer was there to show his support for hockey, Diamond said.
Chris Porreca, executive vice president of the Phantoms, said the team will include the disclaimer, as Diamond directed.
“We have heard what the mayor has said, and we will make the statements as he wishes us to do,” Porreca said.
He said the puck drop ceremony will not be political in nature.
“He’s going to drop the puck, and he is not making any speeches or anything,” Porreca said. “We’re not endorsing any political candidate. We were approached that this is a way that he is helping us move some tickets. Our goal is to move tickets.”
Doheny, who played hockey in high school, said he was simply looking to support the team.
“I’m a former hockey player and a big fan. The Phantoms offered me a fun way to get my message out, and I thought it was a great idea,” Doheny said in a prepared statement. “The success of local hockey depends on local support, and I was glad to help.”
Porreca, however, said the Doheny campaign first approached the Phantoms about the concept.
After the Doheny campaign approached the team, the Phantoms put together an advertising package and offered it to both campaigns.
“We have reached out to both parties and given them both the same opportunity. In the end, this is the one candidate that took us up on it,” Porreca said of Doheny.
James Hannaway, campaign manager for Owens, said he does not recall the team contacting the campaign about advertising.
“We do not have any record of any invitation, but it’s possible that we missed it,” he said.
Diamond said he first became aware of the advertising package when he attended the Oct. 13 game and heard the announcements.
City residents approached him during the intermission and complained about them.
“Some people actually were offended by the public announcements for Doheny,” Diamond said.
Porreca said the Phantoms sell advertising, just like television and radio stations.
“We’re a for-profit business. So we’re taking some advertising dollars,” he said. “We’re helping the downtown. We’re helping the economy with the games.”