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Privateers, arena a win for Watertown

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The Thosuand Islands Privateers, our local professional hockey team, and the local community have enjoyed a huge “win — win” this season. Last year’s few misgivings have given way to positivity and optimism for the future. Case in point: the quality of the ice surface at the Watertown arena is the best I’ve witnessed in 25 years, enhancing the experience for our local hockey and figure skating teams. The arena personnel should be commended for stepping up to the challenge of producing professional quality ice, cleaning the glass for every game and making the place shine.

I think we have found we have a “diamond-in-the-rough” with the arena, leading many to ponder what could be: Year-round ice? A second sheet? Better heating/seating? All of this addresses a common thread key to keeping Fort Drum open and our children from migrating away seeking a better life and that is our quality of life here in the north country. What better way to do that than to maximize what we already possess?

I have lived in major cities with multiple professional sports franchises. For better or worse, these cities have to pony up exorbitant amounts of money with huge, expensive municipal bonds in order to upgrade their arenas and to keep their teams from moving. Meanwhile, the billionaire team owners and millionaire players continue to enrich themselves handsomely. This often leaves the average taxpayer feeling powerless, apathetic and somewhat taken. Reality hits home when one tries to purchase a modest ticket to these events…ouch! Also, unlike here, there is no $1 or $2 public skating time available.

Our area has played host to a more modest version of the above with the Privateers and had more fun doing so. The Privateers organization has produced quality hockey in a family environment complete with face-painting, hot dogs/drinks and the friendly pirate prowling the boards. I appreciate the attention paid to all by the owner, the dedication of the coach, the professional public relations staff, and, of course, the team. The boys on the team play for the love of the game without pretense.

They endure endless hours on the bus, multiple consecutive night games, official promotional appearances nearly every other day of the week and still make themselves available to the public. They have signed countless game schedule posters supplied free by the team, shirts, sticks, pucks, etc., often perspiration-soaked and dehydrated immediately after each game — win or lose. They mug for pictures with their gap-toothed smiles, chat with fans and are truly the faces of the team — our team. Thanks, Privateers, for a great season, and let’s get behind them for the playoffs and next season!

Vincent A. Cesario Jr.

Black River

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