After the Syracuse Silver Knights exit from the Eastern Divisional final against Baltimore, I, like every other Silver Knights fan, eagerly awaited player announcements in either October or November, as they tend to not go after any players during the free agency window in May.
What happened next, was a complete shock.
On Wednesday afternoon, I received a text from General Manager Tommy Tanner asking me to call him when I had a free moment. At first, I thought he was offering me a contract to play backup goalie for the upcoming season (maybe that call will come later in the year). Instead, it was to inform me of the team moving to Utica (Utica is known for a dish called Utica Greens, hence the title of this article). Like every other Knights fan, I was stunned, but, after a couple of minutes on the phone, he assured me that this was the right decision for the future of the team and soccer in Central New York.
As soon as I got off of the phone with him, I started looking on Facebook and Twitter to get more information. I stumbled onto not only more information on the move, but quite a few negative comments about it. Why Utica, and not Rochester? What’s up with the name? All of this came BEFORE Tommy Tanner even had a chance to tell his side of the story. On Thursday night, I got that side of the story. If you don’t want to watch the interview, I’ll give you some key pieces of information below:
- This was a move that needed to be made. Syracuse, since day one, was fighting an uphill battle. According to Tanner, in order to have a successful organization, you need to had staff. This is something that was an issue from the beginning. With the move to Utica, he has the ability to be just the General Manager, instead of wearing multiple hats. He mentioned that he could have made the move to Rochester, but like Syracuse, staff would be minimal.
- He wanted to make sure this team stayed in New York. Earlier this season, we all saw what happened to Cedar Rapids. He wanted to make sure the fans in Central New York still had a team to support.
- A lot of comments I’ve seen make note of an extra 45 minute drive to watch “The City FC”. In the interview, Tanner mentions charter buses from Syracuse to Utica, which I was hoping would be an option. I remember when Rochester was in the league, I used to take charter buses to the Blue Cross Arena for Lancer games to support the Knights. This would alleviate traveling in the middle of winter to games held in Utica.
- The Adirondack Bank Center, where Utica City FC will play their games, is on a completely different level to the OnCenter in Syracuse. I plan on touring the facility in the near future, but from what I’ve seen, this place is immaculate. In Syracuse, if you wanted to attend an after game party, you had to drive 15-20 minutes to Dave and Buster’s, then wait for the players themselves to arrive. In Utica, you will be able to stay IN THE ARENA for the after game parties, since ABC has 72 Tavern and Grill located on-site. There are luxury boxes for companies to rent out to their employees, and the arena is high-tech from top to bottom, making the fan experience even better than the OnCenter.
- Games for the most part will be on Sundays at 2 p.m. My only issue with this is the Knights might have quite a few away games on Saturdays in either Harrisburg, Baltimore, or Toronto. To have an away game one night, then a home game the next, may be rough on the players.
So, what’s my take on this? As a fan of the Syracuse Silver Knights for the last seven years, I am sad to see them leave “The Salt City”. To be honest, the lack of staff and media coverage the Knights had, put them in a position where there would be only three options: Fold the team altogether, move the team to another market, or find a partner close by that would be interested in having soccer. As a fan, in my opinion, this was the BEST option available. With change, there will be some blowback, such as the extra drive in the wintertime (for the fans that don’t have to deal with snow, please look up the snowiest cities in the U.S., then you’ll know what I’m talking about). But fans need to get all of the information first before making any sort of negative comments. One comment continues to play in my head: “Syracuse is moving to Utica? Well, I hope they have a lousy season.” I get that people have the right to say whatever they want, and believe me they do, but wishing ill will onto a team that had no choice but to move a few miles east, that’s rather childish. This team still maintains a presence in Central New York, and will continue to for many years to come.
Here is my full interview with Tommy Tanner:
OK MASL Nation, what say you? By the way, as you can see, Knight Writer has been retired due to the move, so I am in need of a new name. Please help me out!