From hockey pucks to rodeo stars, Cool Insuring Arena back in action

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Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – At the start of Thursday, the ticket office at Cool Insuring Arena had 829 tickets left for the Adirondack Thunder’s opening night on Saturday. By 5:15 p.m., they were down to 589.

That’s the kind of momentum the arena has seen since opening sales for the Thunder’s upcoming hockey season. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Saturday night in an opening match between the Thunder and the Newfoundland Growlers. The rush leading up to the game is real, but arena manager Jeff Mead sees that as exactly the sign that things are going well.

“Friday afternoon, Friday night and Saturday morning we’re scrambling to put up signs and dasher boards, so we’re in a really good place right now,” said Mead on Thursday, after a busy day of overseeing everything from handicap seats to sound system tests. “People are running around, but we’re actually in good shape, so we’re excited.”

All told, as of Thursday evening, the arena was at around the 4,300 range – out of 4,808 total tickets. Jeff Casey, the arena’s group sales director, explained that some of the seats still unfilled by fans are “dead seats,” meaning single seats in otherwise fully-booked rows or entire sections of the arena. Taking those into account, there are closer to 550 that have a chance at being sold in the next 48 hours.

The ice on the rink again is just the start of what’s in store for the arena. In a usual year, Cool Insuring Arena hosts school sports, concerts, private events and much more. Last year, they hosted the filming of Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl.” Some things coming up have yet to be finalized, but Mead ran through a busy calendar from now to next spring.

One comes with a milestone. The Adirondack Stampede Rodeo returns Nov. 5-6, to leave some hoofprints in the arena floor, celebrating 30 years of bucking broncos and bulls. Girls state volleyball tournaments will come in late November. The New York State Boys Basketball finals are making their way back, too.

As for live music, Mead said there are a couple of concerts in the works. Until they’re confirmed and locked in, though, there’s nothing on that front to announce just yet.

“There are some other big events we can’t announce yet, but we’re just looking forward to being back open,” he said.

Masks are encouraged for coronavirus-vaccinated guests at Thunder home games this year, and required for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet. During some events, like the state volleyball games, masks will be required for all. Mead said that guests, just like his own staff, are used to a year and a half of protocol by now, and he doesn’t anticipate any issues.

The arena itself is as ready as it can be, with staff on Thursday printing tickets, moving signage and everything else that needs to be done in the next two days. At the same time, the building remains an aging part of the city of Glens Falls, and is showing the signs of it.

Since last year, the building has had a leaky roof. Staying closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed some time to diagnose the issues, with buckets strewn around the arena floor to catch water as it fell, but there are holes that still haven’t been patched. That’s a job for the city, which owns the building, and one that Mead said has been slowed down to December – at the earliest – because of the same supply chain problems that have complicated every building project in town.

The seats will stay dry on Saturday night, though. And the support is clear from the fans, and more.

“The business support has been the best it’s been since we started the Thunder,” Mead said. “So we’re excited, and we’re incredibly grateful.”

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