I am writing this article today as I and several soccer fans in Syracuse mourn the loss of the Syracuse Silver Knights. If you are still unaware of the situation, the Syracuse Silver Knights organization has moved to Utica and been renamed Utica City FC effective this past Wednesday. Many fans, especially season ticket holders, were not notified of the move until the press conference on Wednesday even though the team continued to push season tickets and summer camps. Fans were left stunned, saddened, and angry, without any prior indication that a move was afoot.
Right now, there are few details about exactly why the Knights moved to Utica. The few that are public are that the team was in a significant amount of debt and in danger of folding completely. As part of the move, the Utica Comets Hockey organization will be lending their marketing and sales services to the team and the club will now play in the Utica Aud. As for fans in Syracuse, they were left with one final Facebook message from the front office saying their goodbyes and urging them to follow the team to Utica.
Once again, Syracuse has lost another soccer team. We are left with lots of memories, including close games, stunning goals, and opportunities to watch local athletes shine. I will never forget seeing them for the first time with my girlfriend (now fiancée) on one of our first dates, and both of us falling in love with the sport. I will always cherish having the opportunity to get to know all the team members and to feature them in this blog on a weekly basis. Most importantly, we will always have the memories of having fun and rooting on our Syracuse Silver Knights these past seven years!
Now, some of you are probably saying, “Stop whining, the team isn’t dead, they just moved 45 minutes down the road.” Well, though the players, coaching staff, and turf may have moved, the actual Silver Knights organization lays dead here in Syracuse. The team no longer represents Syracuse and all the fans here who stood by and cheered them on. The Utica team might steal the Silver Knights record book and regale their fans with tales of how Bryan O’Quinn was a great City goalkeeper, not unlike how the Indianapolis Colts assimilated Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts into their own history. Or worse, they could start over with a new record book and erase the history of the Silver Knights entirely. Sure, there are some who have accepted the move, embracing the new franchise in Utica. On the other hand, there are others, lifetime supporters, who have completely sworn them off for good.
Where do I stand? Well, I am still very upset over how all of this developed and I’m processing the raw emotions of shock and loss. In some ways, if the team was folding I could respect that the Silver Knights family had absorbed a great loss together and we could grieve together. Though the team is still alive, the move stings like a betrayal, and their craven attempts to spin the diehard fans into continuing their support for the team in Utica feels insulting.
However, I will NOT give up on the players and the coaching staff. They have done nothing wrong and will NOT be faulted for any of this. On that note, I have decided to keep my season tickets for this season with the sole purpose of supporting the players and coaches. I will NOT spend any money on merchandise, food, or anything that will make the new front office money.
As for this blog, I am still deciding on whether this organization is worthy of my time covering them. My decision will be made known by the time the season starts this December. For now, I leave all the fans of the Syracuse Silver Knights with this message: don’t give up. Go out and support local soccer at any level. Don’t let this city lose the beautiful game completely once again.