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Big Weekend, Big Crowds, Big Hopes for Utica

by Bill Keeler

Let’s take a look at what was happening in Utica this weekend and how everybody fared.

The Utica Comets played to a sellout crowd on Friday night. Illusionist Leon Etienne and Romy Low received word on Friday that their show at the Stanley Theatre on Saturday night had sold-out.  The Utica Comets announced Saturday morning that their game at the Aud against Rockford at 7 p.m. had sold-out and that was all just the beginning.

Just down the thruway, Syracuse was packing in the largest college basketball crowd ever on a college campus at 35,446, and there were plenty of people from the Mohawk Valley who traveled to that game.

Greater Utica area restaurants and bars reaped the benefits, as well.  People grabbing dinner before the show or game and others packing into bars near a television screen to watch Syracuse play Duke.

Obviously, that’s not all. It’s Superbowl weekend and bars, restaurants and private homes will be holding Superbowl parties for the big game to be played four hours down the Thruway.

I’ve been involved in the bar business and traditionally, the night before a big night like the Superbowl or New Year’s Eve tends to be slow.  The big crowds don’t come out for both nights, they tend to hold back the night before a big event.  Not this weekend.

This town was hopping and it was exciting to see.

It was less than a year ago that people were blogging about the fact that there was no way Utica could support both Utica Pioneers hockey and a new AHL team, that would later be named the Comets.  We can confidently say that, at least in year one, those fears were unfounded.

Maybe there is a mental rebounding of sorts going on even before any new jobs arrive from our visions of nano tech.  Maybe the perception of things getting better is actually making things better, even before they really do get better.

And, when it comes to attracting new industry and new investors into this area, maybe…this is just what the doctor ordered.

Bill Keeler hosts mornings on WIBX, Mon – Fri 6 ’til 9 a.m. 

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