If fans want to watch Syracuse Crunch games in person this season, the Crunch will require them, along with employees and game-night staff to prove their vaccinated against COVID-19.
This decision comes one day before Syracuse Crunch Owner Howard Dolgon is set to host a virtual town hall with fans. If fans are upset with this decision on showing proof of vaccination, Howard has something to say, “Bring it on, baby.”
Facing an angry crowd is nothing new for the longtime owner. Howard remembers when Syracuse had their worst season ever. The Crunch won just 18 games in the 1998-99 season and when hosting an in-person town hall then, Dolgon described it as walking to his execution.
“You have to take the good with the bad and the bitter with the sweet,” Dolgon said about addressing the fans Wednesday night.
The difference between facing them after a record-setting losing season and this decision that was made Tuesday, is he actually has the fan’s health in mind.
“After extensive discussions with Onondaga County, medical professionals at Upstate University Hospital and our partners at the Tampa Bay Lightning, we believe the decision to require full COVID-19 vaccination for entry into the Upstate Medical University Arena will provide the safest possible environment for our team, staff and fans,” Dolgon said in a written statement earlier Tuesday.
The organization has already received complaints from fans who believe they are being told to do with their body. Dolgon believes they are not doing so. He says they are following the science. On the flip side, there have also been sponsors who support this decision.
It has become the perfect dichotomy of how this issue has been battled in this country. Which is something Dolgon and the Crunch have become used to when making decisions that affect the fanbase.
“In this business you are always going to alienate somebody. So, we don’t make a decision based on (alienating anyone). We base a decision on what is going to be the best for the majority of our fans and our community,” Dolgon said.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the completion of a two-shot series or two weeks following a single-dose vaccine. Those unvaccinated in Onondaga County can schedule a vaccination appointment at https://covid19.ongov.net/vaccine/.
“The decision by the Syracuse Crunch to require vaccinations is another example of a business doing what they feel is best for their organization, while also keeping in mind public health. I support their right, and the rights of all of our local businesses, to make these decisions,” Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said. “I also continue to encourage those who aren’t vaccinated to speak with their medical provider and look forward to seeing folks at a game this season!”
Staff and visitors will also be required to wear a mask while inside the Upstate Medical University Arena, which lines up with the county’s policy.
When asked if he worries about the loss of games or postseason play if other teams do not adopt similar policies, Dolgon says he always worries about those things in this climate but believes a season can be completed after seeing it done in Tampa Bay during the playoffs.
Syracuse is currently one of five organizations who have taken on a proof of vaccination policy. Stockton is the only other American franchise with Abbotsford, Toronto and Manitoba requiring fans to show proof.
Additional information about the team’s COVID-19 policies can be found at www.syracusecrunch.com/covidfaqs. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.