Buttenschon and Griffo Call on Governor to Include Adirondack Bank Center in Stadium Reopening Eligibility

New York State Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D, I-Utica/Rome) and State Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-I-C-Rome) announced that they have recently sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Health Commissioner, Howard A. Zucker, requesting the expansion of eligibility for stadium reopening to include those with capacities smaller than 10,000 people. Although Cuomo has released the opening plans for major stadiums and arenas, no guidance has been given as to when smaller sports stadiums and facilities may be allowed to reopen.

Assemblywoman Buttenschon and Senator Griffo’s letter points out that Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium 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.

“Governor 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,” Assemblywoman 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,” Senator 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.”

"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 Robert Esche, President of the Utica Comets. “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 full text of the letter is below:

February 17, 2021

Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
Executive Chamber, State Capitol
Albany, NY 12248

Howard A. Zucker, MD, JD
Commissioner, NYS Department of Health
Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12237

Dear Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Zucker:

New York’s live sports and entertainment industry has been devastated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent announcements of the New York PopsUp Pilot Program and the limited reopening of major stadiums and arenas is welcome and encouraging news for those who work within the industry and spectators who are thrilled with the progress that the state is making.

 Disappointingly, the recently announced reopening of sports venues will not allow the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium located in Utica, New York to allow fans into the stadium for events such as Utica Comets hockey games. As such, we are writing to request that New York State expand eligibility for reopening to stadiums with capacities smaller than 10,000 people while retaining similar operational guidelines and restrictions.

As a designated National Historical Civil Engineer Landmark, the Adirondack Bank Center has always been an epicenter of community pride and catalyst for local downtown resurgence prior to the pandemic. The 125,000-square foot facility has generated millions in economic impact over the years and its success is vital to the success of the City of Utica and the Mohawk Valley.

The Mohawk Valley Garden Corporation, which owns and operates the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League and the Adirondack Bank Center, has prepared reopening plans that have a primary focus of ensuring the safety of up to 400 patrons, workers and athletes alike in the hope that the stadium will be given the opportunity to reopen.

In addition to following all local, state, and federal COVID-9 guidance, the Adirondack Bank Center will set the new standard in health and safety in arenas. This will be done by leveraging existing technology to eliminate unnecessary face-to-face contact, deploying new technology to assist with communication with patrons and utilizing industry to begin stimulating the local economy.

We urge you to give the proposal serious consideration and allow the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium the opportunity to reopen.


Marianne Buttenschon
Member of Assembly
119th District

Joseph A. Griffo
State Senator
47th District