Updated 06/03/2009 06:57 AM
County crushes Crunch plans
SYRACUSE, N.Y. --It was not on the agenda. But suddenly, in the middle of Tuesday's Onondaga County legislature meeting, a new proposal surfaced: $75,000 toward an outdoor Syracuse Crunch game, down from $350,000 the team originally requested.
"We tried to show support for the Crunch and all they've done in Syracuse, but at the same time, reduce risk to the county taxpayers," said legislator Patrick Kilmartin.
The pared-down proposal passed 14-4. But at less than a quarter of the original amount, opponents say the compromise offer was hardly an offer at all.
"The sponsors of the item that passed today will say 'Well, we needed what we need to do to get the Crunch their outdoor hockey game,' when, in reality, that's not accurate," said legislator Martin Masterpole.
The owner of the Crunch agreed.
"It's insulting. It's typical politics. And we find it very sad and unacceptable," said Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon.
Within minutes of the vote, the Crunch rejected the legislature's offer and started looking into a game at the Carrier Dome. Dolgon says he's hopeful about that possibility, compared with the last one.
"We won't have to go through the layers of minutiae and have to deal with any idiots like I've had to deal with with the legislature," Dolgon said.
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Still, legislators who voted for the compromise say they're comfortable with that decision. They say it was never their responsibility to bear the full cost and risk of the Crunch's venture.
"It would be wonderful if the county of Onondaga can make all these business models work for all of these different enterprises. But it's not the role of government, it's not the responsibility, really. The business people have to drive the model," Kilmartin said.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the Crunch can make another model work for the team and the people of Syracuse.
Dolgon says he's meeting with the Syracuse University athletic director Wednesday. As for the team's relationship with the county, he says the legislature's actions are just one more thing to take into consideration when the Crunch renegotiate their contract.