UTICA — State Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon and State Sen. Joseph Griffo have co-authored a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker requesting expansion of eligibility for stadium reopening to include those with capacities smaller than 10,000 people.
Such an allowance would cover the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The Utica Comets played their first home game of the AHL hockey season Wednesday night but there were no fans allowed in attendance. The Comets won, 5-2.
The state has released the opening plans for major stadiums and arenas, but no guidance has been given as to when smaller sports stadiums and facilities may be allowed to reopen.
“We are extremely excited to hear about the steps moving forward that reintroduce fans back into sports venues, especially at our neighboring league venue in Rochester,” said Comets president Robert Esche. “We would love the opportunity to show solidarity across the State of New York by accommodating 10% of patrons in our building as well.”
The letter from Assemblywoman Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, and Sen. Griffo, R-47, Rome, points out that the Aud has already begun preparing plans for reopening, including restrictive occupancy limits, face-covering requirements and distancing and sanitation measures, based on guidance already provided by the state.
“Gov. Cuomo’s plan to reopen stadiums is a great step forward. However, I’m asking that we dig deeper and look into smaller venues, like the Adirondack Bank Center, who are ready and willing to set the new standard in health and safety for arenas,” Buttenschon stated. “As an epicenter of community pride and downtown resurgence, the Adirondack Bank Center has developed a thorough plan that will use new technology to eliminate face-to-face contact, demonstrating their commitment to their players, employees and guests. We must look at all venues, not just larger stadiums, to enact proper protocols while beginning to stimulate the local economy.”
“The governor’s decision to allow limited capacity at the state’s larger arenas and stadiums is another arbitrary decision made by the administration during the coronavirus pandemic and is unfair to the other facilities throughout the state,” Griffo stated. “If Madison Square Garden can accommodate thousands of people in accordance with established health and safety protocols, then the Adirondack Bank Center at Utica Memorial Auditorium and smaller arenas should also have the opportunity to present and implement plans that would allow them to reopen to the public safely.”