GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – In a world where first impressions are everything, the ECHL franchise nestled in the great Adirondack region of New York definitely makes an incredible one.
For those of you who don’t know where Glens Falls is, it is an incredible hockey town roughly 20 minutes south of Lake George, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the mountainous area. (If you don’t know where the Adirondacks are, you should probably invest in a map.)
The Adirondack Thunder, who are entering their third season of play in the ECHL, call Cool Insuring Arena “home.” Commonly known as the Glens Falls Civic Center, the venue seats roughly 4,800 people, and although the team’s average nightly attendance hovered around 2,830 last season, your hearing would tell you otherwise.
“Even with 2,000 people in here, it gets really loud,” confirmed Jeff Mead, General Manager of the Civic Center and Thunder. “Even moreso with 3,000 – 4,000. It’s amazing. Very intimate.”
Not only do the Thunder draw fans from Warren County’s population of 65,000 local citizens, but they also attract hockey lovers from across the entire state.
“I met a huge fan right before warmups. We were both laughing over fixing our makeup when she told me she had just arrived from Long Island!” I told Mead of my first visit late in March.
I was so enthralled by the spirit of the fans in the arena, especially after experiencing my first “Thunder Clap,” that I made certain to be present for the first round of the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs against division rivals, the Manchester Monarchs.
It was around the same time that Adirondack’s front office was going through some major changes.
“I was always in the sports business, and I came back in July of 2015 to run the arena, certainly having no thought about ever running the team,” said Mead, a Glens Falls native.
Mead, who also played college hockey at SUNY Potsdam, couldn’t pass on the opportunity to #KeepHockeyHere.
“When I had the opportunity to buy the team and make sure it stayed in Glens Falls, I decided that I would run both the front office and the building,” he explained. “Having 35-36 Thunder games per year here is critical in keeping the Civic Center relevant all over the region.
While the Monarchs knocked the Thunder out of Kelly Cup contention after six gritty games during the North Division Semifinals, 2017 playoffs instantly became memorable for thousands of fans for a completely different reason.
“Ed Moore,” said Mead. “There is only one Ed Moore.”
“When the coalition, who owns the building here, came in to save it, Ed was the chief person, along with other business men and women in town,” recalled Mead. “He owns the renovated hotel up the road, and he’ll serve as governor of the team for the first year, at the very least.”
For those of you in attendance that night, you might’ve been just as affected by the speech as I was (and still am).
“He’s certainly a passionate leader, and that’s why he was chosen to give that speech,” said Mead. “He truly believes in filling the building and keeping hockey here.”
To cap off the speech, he lead the arena’s faithful in their infamous “Thunder Clap,” which can only be explained by the video at the bottom of this story.
(Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Go watch it right now and then come back.)
Right?! Who wouldn’t want to become a Thunder season ticket holder after that?! After all, Moore did mention that season tickets start at just $13 per game, and considering that is less expensive than most other teams’ group rates, you really can’t beat that.
In the days and months following Moore’s speech, the Thunder immediately began to see positive impacts of their #KeepHockeyHere campaign.
“Season tickets are going at a good clip, and we’re raising money as well for the team,” mentioned Mead. “We’ve received a significant amount of donations since the speech. We’re not sure if that’s the reason for it, or if it was the pitch of needing cash to help purchase the team to get us started in operating.”
Mead also stated that the team’s goal for the 2017-18 season is to sell 1,500 season tickets, which he considers “achievable” after the team sold 998 during 2016-17.
“We’re around 950 with hopes of being over 1,000 paid by Labor Day!” said Zach Dooley, Director of Communications and Community Relations, last week. “We’re seeing new customers come in at a high rate, and we’re excited about our progress this summer.”
Dooley, who is entering his third season with the ECHL franchise and first under this ownership group, also noted that numerous ticket packages have been purchased by fans of the Albany Devils, the former American Hockey League team that has recently become the Binghamton Devils.
“We’re hoping that being the Capital Region’s only pro hockey team continues to help us build that ticket base back up to where we need it to be,” Dooley said.
Dooley, who first came to Glens Falls in 2014 as the broadcaster for the then Adirondack Flames of the AHL, has experienced all of the recent front office changes firsthand and sees nothing but improvement on a daily basis.
“Having local management is extremely important in our area, so having a local ownership group and a local person in Jeff Mead running the team are both huge for us,” explained Dooley. “
Whether in the form of a donation, ticket plan purchase, or sponsorship, Dooley indicated that the community is showing support for the team from many different angles.
“It feels like the entire community is behind us,” Dooley said. “For the first time as the Thunder, it seems like everything is trending in our favor, and we’re really excited as a staff to get started this season.”
If you’re like me and cannot wait another minute for hockey season to start, the Thunder are hosting some preseason events in the next few weeks that will hopefully influence even more ticket sales.
The 2017-18 Season Ticket Holder Pickup Party will be held on Saturday, September 23, at Cool Insuring Arena, where plan holders can pick up their ticket books for the new season. On Tuesday, October 10, “Cruise With The Thunder” will give fans the opportunity to take a scenic tour of Lake George while meeting the entire team, a truly unique event of its kind.
After watching several affiliate league teams fold over the last few years, the #KeepHockeyHere movement in Glens Falls, N.Y., is more important than ever. To learn more about purchasing season tickets, becoming a sponsor, or making a donation, visit www.echlthunder.com today. Trust me, your first “Thunder Clap” won’t disappoint you.