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Albany situation: a win-win for Phantoms?

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  • Albany situation: a win-win for Phantoms?

    (If you’re looking for the usual postgame wrapup, go back one post.)

    Standing on the concourse before Wednesday’s game waiting to interview Phantoms VP Mike Thompson, I heard a lot of people coming into the building talking about the Albany River Rats’ sale and relocation to Charlotte, which was announced earlier in the afternoon. Everyone has an opinion on what it will mean to the Phantoms, who get standing-room-only crowds when Albany is in town.

    Thompson’s take is that everything will even out for the Phantoms attendance-wise. If a new franchise comes to Albany, things will remain virtually the same. If there isn’t a franchise in Albany,* the Phantoms’ front office can dramatically increase their geographical reach when it comes to marketing and group sales.

    “From the Phantoms perspective, it’s kind of a win-win for us. I don’t want to rub it in the faces of the Rats fans, but if there is no team there it expands our market dramatically. If there is a team there, we still have the rivalry.”

    Thompson agreed with co-owner Rob Brooks’ assessment last week that Albany games are worth about a 500-600 attendance bump at the Civic Center. (The raw number is higher, but several of the Albany games have been on weekends and targeted for promotions, group sales). Multiply that by six home games and you’ll see what the Phantoms would have to make up. Thompson thinks he can make that up by targeting areas currently off limits due to a gentleman’s agreement between the teams.

    “We don’t go and try and sell group sales down there or corporate groups or school groups,” Thompson said. “With (the River Rats) out of the way, we’d have access to all of that.”

    I wouldn’t expect a pessimistic assessment from the guy whose job it is to market the team, but Thompson’s take seems*reasonable to me. You may not have those peak attendance nights without Albany, but over the course of the season I think they’d probably be just about even to where they are now.*At the least, I don’t think*Albany’s absence endangers Adirondack.

    My one concern is if a New York Rangers affiliate moved into Albany, as has been rumored. Clearly, that could do nothing but make the Albany games here even more of a hot ticket. But would you lose a portion of*the Phantoms’*fan base who’d rather drive down to see a Rangers’ affiliate? I think you’d lose some — but how many? Would a guy from Glens Falls chose to support an Albany team with a Rangers connection than his hometown club? I don’t think many would. But what about a guy further south in Saratoga or southern Washington County, where the distance isn’t as far? That’s more of a gray area.*

    For his part, Thompson isn’t overly concerned about that and said he’d welcome a Rangers affiliate in Albany because of how well they’d draw in their six games at the Civic Center.

    “I don’t think that would hurt us a lot. Our corporate sponsors, a lot of them are locked in and local anyway,” Thompson said.

    You readers are the ones buying the tickets, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on all this. Please chime in below.

    – Tim