The franchise announced January 17 that it will relocate to a new $158 million facility in Allentown, Pa. for the 2013-2014 season. The team will play the rest of this season, and all of the 2012-2013 season in Glens Falls before moving down to their new home. The team’s owners, brothers Robert and Jim Brooks, bought the franchise back in 2009 when they were known to hockey fans as the Philadelphia Phantoms. Following the demolition of the Philadelphia Spectrum, they relocated the team to Glens Falls, but maintained all along that they would return to Pennsylvania once an adequate venue became available. The news comes halfway through the Phantoms’ best season since moving to Glens Falls. Their record currently stands at 20 wins and 16 losses. The Phantoms are the minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers.
The news comes in the midst of a pair of games against their natural rival, the Albany Devils. The Phantoms lost on their recent trip down Interstate 87, allowing the Devils to jump out to a 5-0 lead before finishing with three unanswered goals for a final score of 5-3 during a matinee game on January 16. The team will host Albany January 18, and won’t play their rivals again until March.
The Phantoms moved to the area in hopes of reviving the excitement that surrounded the last American Hockey League franchise, the Adirondack Red Wings. The Red Wings were a wildly successful franchise, missing the post season in only one of their 20 seasons in Glens Falls, while winning four AHL Calder Cup Trophies in the process. The Red Wings disbanded in 1999, and the United Hockey League’s Adirondack Frostbite debuted in 2000. The Frostbite would disband in 2006 when the team was unable to reach a lease agreement with the Glens Falls Civic Center. Glens Falls remained without a team until the Phantoms arrived in 2009.
Construction on the new Allentown facility has not yet begun, but the team is expecting it will be ready by the time they begin their 2013-2014 season.
The team’s Executive Vice President Chris Porreca acknowledged that Robert and Jim Brooks had been in discussion with Allentown regarding relocating for about six years. The Brooks brothers have stated publically that they would work with Glens Falls to try and lure a new franchise into the market, but have not had any direct discussions with any teams as of yet. In the meantime, the Phantoms are hopeful the community will rally around them, and send a message to any new franchise looking for an excitable fan base.
“I think true hockey fans are going to continue to come out and support us, and show the rest of the league that this is a viable market,” said Porreca. “We’re going to work with the local businesses, the mayor, and the Glens Falls Civic Center to grow our sponsorship and fan base.”