The news on Monday that Fred Costello would not be returning as organist for the Rochester Americans did not have to be that big of a story but it’s turned into one. The reason? The way Amerks President Lewis Staats is being portrayed as handling the situation.
It also doesn’t help that this made the front page of this mornings sports section in the Democrat and Chronicle.
This quote in the D&C from Costello sums up the situation, “It’s not the fact that they made a move. It’s how I was told.”
Every sports fan in Rochester knows Fred Costello from Amerks and Rochester Red Wings games for playing the organ. He plays the music. That’s the way it is and has always been.
John Catalano, the Amerks vice president of production and marketing was also quoted in the D&C saying, “We realize this is not a popular decision, but sometimes unpopular decisions need to be made.”
When an unpopular decision like this is going to be made it needs to be handled a little more delicately. All one has to do is look at the comments attached to the article in the Democrat and Chronicle.
If the team had issue a press release stating that Costello would not be returning along with some reasons attached it could possibly have been more understandable. Something as simple as the team stating they appreciated his work and committment over the years but they’re going in a different direction.
Instead Costello is quoted in the paper with the following:
“The guy said the Amerks were willing to work something out if I would work for trade,” Costello said today. “I don’t work for tickets. I’m a professional.”
Curt Styres has done an amazing job this off season in spending money to sign skilled free agent players to improve the Amerks roster. It has created a buzz with hockey fans in Rochester and elsewhere in the American Hockey League. The roster additions have increased season ticket sales already.
The downside to that is casual sports fans in town hears more about Jody Gage being fired and now Fred Costello being fired. Costello and Gage are part of Amerks hockey. They’re not just two guys that have been around for a few years.
Once the season starts on October 2nd and the team is making headlines again by winning games all of this will be news of the past, but for a team trying to rebuild it’s fan base the last thing they need prior to that happening is any type of bad press that could be avoided.
One last thing – Don Stevens and The Moose better be given life time contracts immediately. Lewis Staats and Curt Styres might get run out of town if either of those two are walked out the door and into the unemployment line.