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Coalition To Purchase Glens Falls Hockey Team

Lucas Willard

As often happens this time of year, reporters were summoned to a hockey arena in the region today to learn about a franchise’s future. But this time, professional hockey is staying in Glens Falls. The ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder, which have called the Civic Center home for two seasons, will soon come under local ownership.

In 2014, parent NHL team the Calgary Flames moved a brand new AHL team to the Glens Falls Civic Center after the departure of the AHL Adirondack Phantoms.

But the Adirondack Flames only lasted one season before moving west. In their place, Calgary established a new team, the ECHL Adirondack Thunder.

With hopes high as the team makes a run for the Kelly Cup, Thunder team president Brian Petrovek began the meeting about the team’s future on Tuesday.

“The news you’re about to receive from Commissioner McKenna begins a new chapter in the rich and storied history of hockey in this building and in this community,” said Petrovek.

Petrovek then invted ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna to the podium where the news was delivered: the Thunder will remain, but under new owners.

“By a unanimous vote of the board of governors of the ECHL at our meeting last week, would like to officially welcome the Adirondack Civic [Center] Coalition as the new owners of the Adirondack Thunder,” said McKenna.

The Civic Center Coalition took ownership of the building from the city of Glens Falls in 2014. Composed of local business leaders, the group has worked with Calgary and public officials to make many improvements to the aging arena including a new marquee, new lighting, and a new video board.

McKenna said the dedication of the Coalition made it easy for ECHL to approve the deal.

“It became evident that there was a determination, that there was a passion with this group, that they were in this for the right reasons. They were doing this for community. They were doing this not only for the hockey community but for the general community, the general population,” said McKenna.

McKenna estimated about two thirds of ECHL hockey teams are locally owned vs. team-owned.

The team was purchased from Calgary via a down payment from the Coalition, including funds from board members themselves, said Coalition president Dan Burke.

The sale is to be finalized on June 30th. Burke also announced the start of a fundraising campaign to secure the team.

“We are launching today a fundraising campaign to help ‘Keep Hockey Here.’ If you want to make a donation today you can do it on the website, you can see one of our board members,” said Burke. He added, as a joke, “in fact you’re not going to be able to leave the room without reaching into your pocket.”

Coaching and staffing decisions have yet to be made.

The good news in Glens Falls comes on the heels of news that the New Jersey Devils would pull their AHL affiliate from the Times Union Center in Albany.

ECHL Commissioner McKenna said nobody has stepped forward yet to put an ECHL team in its place.

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