GLENS FALLS — The Adirondack Civic Center Coalition is making good on the Adirondack Thunder’s season slogan: This is our team.
The Coalition announced a plan to purchase the ECHL hockey team from Calgary Sports and Entertainment on Tuesday, merging the ownership and operation of Glens Falls Civic Center with that of its main tenant.
“This is now truly our community’s team,” said Dan Burke, president of the Coalition. “They’re here as long as we want them to be.”
The decision to buy the team was not an automatic one for the Coalition. Sure, the Coalition members were interested — this was a chance to guarantee hockey stays in Glens Falls — but they had concerns as they looked into the possibility.
They asked all of the questions that fans are asking now. Is this financially feasible? Are they prepared to get into the hockey business?
“We looked at it hard and said, ‘What would happen? It could get sold and it could move,’ ” Burke said. “We said, ‘We might want to consider that.’ And we all said, ‘No, that doesn’t make any sense.’ ”
But they did start thinking about it. Hockey is part of this city’s identity and a long-term professional hockey tenant is an important part of the building’s business plan.
Burke, president of NBT Bank, North Country Region, and the two other bankers on the Coalition see people come into their banks looking for loans to buy or start a business without experience in the given industry. They also didn’t want to fall into the theory in which one buys something with the rationale they can also sell it to a “greater fool” later.
The Coalition took a closer look at the situation and determined buying the team was in its and the region’s best interest.
The purchase will be official June 30, though the seat on the ECHL Board of Governors was transferred upon the league’s approval last week. By that date, the Coalition needs $1 million to cover the purchase, a bond required by the ECHL, ECHL league dues and capital to begin operating the team. To do so, it launched the “Keep Hockey Here” fundraising campaign at Tuesday’s news conference.
There are efficiencies in merging operation of building and team — something Calgary looked into when it moved the Adirondack Flames to Glens Falls three years ago — and in the industry, many view joint operation as the best way to be fiscally viable.
“It’s the only way to go,” said current Adirondack Thunder President Brian Petrovek. “It creates efficiencies. It creates the control you want to have over all your revenue and the allocation of your costs. You don’t have to have a competing environment where you have landlord and tenant looking for turf.”
The Thunder will be the fifth ECHL team to share ownership with their building; Florida, Wheeling, Cincinnati and Boise have always done so.
The Coalition is still working out the exact hierarchy, but they have a general idea. The team will be owned by the Adirondack Hockey Coalition LLC, which will be overseen by the new hockey board of managers. The new LLC is a legal means of financially protecting the Coalition members.
The building and business side of the team will be run by Jeff Mead, the current Civic Center general manager. Current head coach and director of hockey operations Cail MacLean will continue to run the hockey side of things. Both Mead and MacLean will report to the board of managers, which will then report to the Civic Center Coalition.
The board of governors is made up of former Adirondack Red Wings Glenn Merkosky, Greg Joly and Claude Loiselle (also on the Coalition) as well as Kevin Mahoney, retired state Supreme Court Justice David Krogmann and Civic Center Coalition members Ed Moore, Elisabeth Mahoney and George Ferone.
Neither the Coalition members nor hockey board managers will draw salaries. Any profits will be used to support the building and team.