GLENS FALLS -- Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond and EDC Warren County President Edward Bartholomew on Thursday gave a tour of the Civic Center to a Calgary Flames official.
The trio came by after practice but before the Adirondack Phantoms players had all cleared out and asked head coach Terry Murray for a tour of the team facilities.
They also stopped by the team offices on the second floor and may have seen more of the building.
A Post-Star sports reporter was standing a few feet away when the Flames official introduced himself to Murray. The official appeared to be Mike Holditch, the Flames’ senior vice president and assistant general manager. A source who works at the Civic Center, but who asked for anonymity because of the confidential nature of the city’s hockey recruitment efforts, confirmed his identity.
When reached by a Post-Star news reporter on Thursday afternoon, Bartholomew denied the man they showed around the building was affiliated with the Flames.
Bartholomew, the city’s lead point person on hockey recruitment, would not identify the man or discuss his visit to Glens Falls.
“Any discussion we’re having about hockey is covered by a nondisclosure agreement,” he said.
Later in the day, the mayor said he could not comment on talks with AHL teams. He would not confirm nor deny that it was Holditch or the Flames that toured the building.
Diamond did say he “remains optimistic” about getting a team for the 2014-15 season and that he will not give up until the league announces the dates. He pointed out that the relationship with the Phantoms, when the team decided to come to Glens Falls five years ago, was a “late-blooming” one.
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Glens Falls 2nd Ward Councilman Bill Collins said he was not aware of the visit but that Diamond has been purposely evasive with Common Council members about the status of hockey negotiations, to keep word from getting back to cities where teams are currently located.
The Flames’ director of communications and media relations, Seth Lasko, did not return a Post-Star phone call on Thursday.
Calgary’s AHL affiliate, the Heat, is the most isolated in the league, in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The Heat has a good deal in Abbotsford. According to the team’s contract, they are guaranteed $5.7 million (Canadian), which is about $5.1 million (U.S.), and the city must make up the difference in “supply fees.”
In the team’s four season in Abbotsford, the city has paid about $5 million (Canadian) in supply fees due to poor attendance and travel costs.
The 10-year contract signed July 1, 2009, says “the financial terms shall be reviewed after five years.” That would be this summer.
If financial terms of the deal were changed, it might be more difficult for the Heat to remain so isolated from other teams — about 2,000 miles from the closest opponent.
Glens Falls is about 50 miles from the closest opponent, Albany, and makes day trips to seven teams. The longest trip the Phantoms make is to Norfollk, Va.
The proximity to other teams cuts costs immensely and also gives players more time on the ice, as opposed to a bus.
Post-Star reporter Maury Thompson contributed to this story.