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Cool Insuring Arena poised for roof replacement and busy winter season

Cool Insuring Arena

A large tent was set up in front of Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls last week, though it's unclear what was taking place inside. Officials would not say. Around this time last year, an Animal Planet film crew recorded an installment of its annual "Puppy Bowl" at the arena. 

GLENS FALLS — The long-awaited roof replacement at Cool Insuring Arena will have to wait a little longer due to supply-chain issues brought on by the pandemic.

Construction on the sprawling arena roof — originally expected to be completed by the end of summer — is now expected to start in December, according to Jeff Mead, the arena’s general manager.

“Like a lot of other industries, there are some supply-chain issues getting the product into Glens Falls,” he said. “The current plan is a December start and an April or May finish.”

In June, the Common Council awarded a $1.7 million contract to Titan Roofing of Albany to replace the 54,000-square-foot roof that for years has been plagued by leaks.

Operational costs for the city-owned arena are covered by Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, but maintenance expenses are paid by the city.

Construction is now slated to begin in the middle of the Adirondack Thunder’s upcoming season, though Mead said the project will not interfere with the returning ECHL team.

Last season’s Thunder schedule was canceled due to the pandemic, but Mead said fans are excited for the team’s return.

Season ticket sales are up 7% compared to the 2019-20 season, which was cut short by the onset of the pandemic.

Mead said the surging virus was a concern heading into the new season, and while it’s unclear just how full the arena will be when the Thunder take the ice, early indications have been promising.

“I think our fans missed Thunder hockey,” he said. “There’s a small percentage who are still on the fence and haven’t made the decision to come back and certainly that may be due to COVID, but overall, most of our fans are encouraged to come back to the arena.”

Mead said arena staff members are finalizing safety protocols for the upcoming season and he expects additional details to be released in the coming days. He declined to discuss the policies on Friday until they were finalized.

Preseason training camp protocols restrict access to certain sections and require face masks for unvaccinated individuals except while eating. Fully vaccinated individuals are also encouraged to wear a mask at all times, according to the guidelines.

Arenas and stadiums across the state have required proof of vaccination in order to attend events, but those decisions have been made by arena operators following recommendations from local health departments.

“We’ve always followed the local, state and CDC guidance and we’re going to continue to do that,” Mead said. “Once we get them finalized, we’re going to put them out to our Thunder fans … and then we’ll go from there.”

With the exception of a few local events and the filming for last February’s installment of the “Puppy Bowl,” the arena has mostly sat dormant throughout the pandemic, but the downtown facility is poised to come back to life in the coming weeks.

The walking program will be reinstated in the days ahead and the Adirondack Stampede Rodeo, an annual event lost to the pandemic, is scheduled to return in November.

And hockey won’t be the only sport played at the arena in the coming months. The annual state high school volleyball and basketball tournaments have already been scheduled for early next year, Mead said.

Staff members are in the process of finalizing a number of concerts for early next year, too.

The arena has been hosting some type of production for the last two weeks. On Friday, a pair of television production trucks were parked at the rear of the facility and a number of tables were spotted under a large tent near the box office.

An Animal Planet film crew recorded last February’s installment of its annual “Puppy Bowl” around this same time last year, though it’s unclear if the production is again being produced in Glens Falls.

Mead declined to provide details.

“It’s a private event and they’ve been here for the last 10 days,” he said. “At this time, I’m not at liberty to tell you what the actual event is.”

Still, he said, the future of the arena is encouraging.

“I think there’s definitely interest,” Mead said. “It seems like a lot of people are going back to events, which is encouraging in general.”

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George and Washington County government. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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