Utica's new AHL hockey franchise is generating a lot of excitement as they get ready for their inaugural season. Well, they're adding one more thing to pump up the fans. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us what's in the works for the home opener of the Comets.
UTICA, N.Y. -- As it gets a little colder and starts to feel like winter, the steady hum of traffic going by the Aud is nothing compared to the noise building up inside.
Utica Comets President Rob Esche said, "The buzz is obviously great. Every time you're out at the bar, or having a drink, you're always hearing something new from somebody and it's all been positive."
The Vancouver Canucks' new AHL franchise, the Comets, are prepping for a big inaugural year. Just look at their season ticket sales.
"We're right around the 1,500 mark, we're fourth in the league in tickets, so we're right there. We're in the top five," said Ticket Sales VP Adam Banko.
And they're trying to ride that excitement. Esche announced a Fan Fest to ring in the season Monday, featuring a puck drop from Gordie Howe.
"It is exciting, I mean, Mr. Hockey is Mr. Hockey no matter where you go in the world," Esche said.
They'll also have the '80s band Night Ranger and childhood heroes to Esche, the Hanson brothers from Slap Shot, notably shot in the Aud.
"I think everyone sees me as a hockey player and I want to make sure that the hockey experience is perfect for everybody, but I also want to create the social event," Esche said.
And thanks to $5 million from the state, it's starting to look like hockey season inside, too. They've got Vancouver colors up on the walls and the ice is already on the floor.
"The announcement came so late, that there's only so much we can do. The first thing that we had to do was the locker rooms, which are getting buttoned up right now as we speak," said Esche.
You'll notice other changes throughout the season, including some planned suites, but the locker room is set to be done in a couple of days.
"That was the only thing I was nervous about because the guys didn't have a place to live when they got here," said Esche.
The rest of the money will be spent during the next year or so, building up a brand new Aud around the brand new team.
The Comets' home opener is October 23rd and individual tickets go on sale on October 5th.