My old friend George Champion, who welcomed a generation of visitors to Glens Falls Civic Center, once told me the Civic Center was a gathering place for the community, a place for us to come together for a common cause.
The cause was the Red Wings in those days, now the Phantoms.
It is the place to be on those frosty January nights and brutal February evenings where the entrainment-du-jour is dinner and a hockey game, and maybe, some Buffalo wings after the game.
It is where you might run into half a dozen friends and neighbors and meet a few new friends, too.
It is where our kids saw their first game. It is a place to smile, cheer and exchange high-fives.
So I’m with Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond in making the Civic Center a politics-free zone where the only argument should be about who is the better goalie.
You’ve probably heard by now congressional candidate Matt Doheny paid the Phantoms $3,000 for a package that includes advertising, a block of tickets, political announcements during the game and the honor of him dropping the puck before last night’s game. The appearance was tied to a campaign fundraiser in Glens Falls before the game. Donate $50, and you got a ticket to the game.
The advertising market isn’t great these days so you can’t blame the Phantoms for taking the money.
Doheny is locked in a tight race with Congressman Bill Owens, and the appearance provided him an opportunity to get out his message to 4,000 people at one stop 10 days before the election.
Nobody is doing anything wrong here.
Nothing is unethical, but it still doesn’t feel right.
Because the mayor is a Democrat, his objections can easily be dismissed as being politically motivated.
No matter what the motivation, his objections are right on the mark.
I’ve been to enough sporting events over the years to be able to sense the mood of a crowd. Two years ago, right before the congressional election, supporters of both Chris Gibson and Scott Murphy descended on the Civic Center.
Supporters for each side wandered the concourse wearing their respective political buttons and T-shirts. Between periods of the hockey game, the talk was all about politics, not hockey.
The atmosphere seemed tense to me.
The political hawkers were talking a little too loudly for my taste, making a little too much of a scene.
It was distracting, and I wished they would leave.
It was as if the Phantoms’ fans had been divided and the power play was on the concourse instead of on the ice.
For Glens Falls, the Civic Center is more than a hockey arena. It is our community center, our hub, and when the politicians descend, it can only lead to disharmony.
We’ve had enough of that from the hockey team the past few years. We don’t need the politicians to add to it.
Ken Tingley is editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.