UTICA, N.Y. - Fans were back at the Adirondack Bank Center for the first time in months to celebrate the Utica Comets and Utica City FC, with the teams hosting their annual garage sale, Wednesday.
Items lined the concourse at The Aud as game-worn equipment and uniforms were on sale, as was signed memorabilia, and team apparel for both squads.
"You get a unique opportunity in Utica that you get access to these type of things," said Phil Lavanco, Director of Video Production for the Comets and UCFC. "Our teams provide multiple opportunities for our fans to own and purchase all sorts of unique gear. To give them a chance to buy this stuff and wear them around town, or frame them and put them in their basement or in their office, why wouldn't we do that?"
A two-day event, Wednesday's sale was open to season ticket holders only for either or both teams from 4-6 p.m. On Thursday it will be open to the general public in the same time frame.
It's become a yearly tradition over the past few years and with a shortened season in both the AHL and MASL due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's event was a way to bring familiar faces back together, safely, at a place where they've shared many positive memories.
"Unfortunately COVID robbed us of the end of our seasons," said Lavanco. "We missed everybody, we missed our fans and we wanted to welcome them back with this garage sale."
There were health and safety protocols in place to allow fans to browse for items. Everyone in attendance was required to wear a mask, socially distance as much as possible, and there was a maximum capacity of 50 people allowed in the doors at a time.
"We're fortunate to be able to be in here and allow this event to happen," said Lavanco. "We worked to make sure we were COVID-safe and responsible. We didn't want to deny our fans the opportunity to get access to this stuff, but at the same time we've got to be responsible."
The AHL is anticipating to start the 2020-21 season on December 4, while the MASL still yet to announce a start date for its 2020-21 season.
Even so, the immediate future remains uncertain amid the ongoing pandemic. With that, the garage sale served as a way for fans to remain connected to the teams and vise versa during this trying time.
"I think people are coming in because they miss being here," said Lavanco. "They miss seeing this stuff, they miss walking around the building and we miss having them here too. So this is sort of a gateway to say hello to everyone again. We're just happy to be here and see them."