Tim McManus on the Phantoms and the impact of Albany's move

We wrote a lengthy piece yesterday about the impact the move of the Albany River Rats from upstate New York to North Carolina will have on the Flyers AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

There was a lot of discussion about the impact this all has on the Flyers in the comments of that article. Tim McManus, Phantoms beat writer at the Glens Falls Post-Star, intended on posting a response to some of the comments with a comment of his own, but our site has a 24 hour validation period where newly registered members can't jump in.

He passed along his comments to me via email, however. I've included them here:

As a reporter who has covered this issue for more than a year, I can assure you hockey in Albany is not fine and has not been fine for quite some time. The River Rats lasted for 15 years only because of the generosity of a local owner, Walter Robb, who was willing to lose a considerable amount of money because he considered it a civic point of pride to have a team there. The River Rats aren’t leaving just because Carolina wanted a closer affiliation. The franchise was sold because it’s a financial black hole. Any new owner will need to come in with a completely new business plan.

If you’re a Flyers fan concerned about the viability of the Phantoms until Allentown is viable, Glens Falls is a far safer bet. The owners are on track to break even this season, something that hasn’t happened in Albany in at least 12 years. According to a story in today’s Times Union, the Rats have been in the bottom 25 percent of the league in attendance for the last 10 seasons. Twelve pro sports franchises have left Albany in the last 20 years. The headline of that TU story, by the way is, "Rats show the risk of hockey in Albany."

I make the commute between this area and Philadelphia several times a year. The 40 or so miles of highway between Glens Falls and Albany is the easiest part of the drive. It’s empty highway. You’d have to be insane to take on the considerable financial risks in Albany just to move 35 minutes closer to Philadelphia. Also, many players live where I do, in the Saratoga area. That’s about 15-20 miles south of Glens Falls, so the time element is even less. Why would you uproot a financially stable situation for a far riskier one with only a negligible time benefit?

Glens Falls needs facility upgrades before it can be an ideal long-term market, but for the next 2-3 years it suits the needs of the Brooks Brothers and the Flyers much better than Albany.

For reference, check out the article from yesterday and the lengthy debate in the comments section that follow. For more on Tim, check out his work at the Post-Star, as well as an interview we did with him back in October. I'm sure he'll be happy to answer any more concerns in the comments section here as well.

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