As we enter our tenth month of dealing with COVID-19, I wanted to give everyone an update.
- First and foremost, we continue to to be as careful as humanly possible to protect against anyone becoming ill as the result of coming to Island Garden. We have been open for four months and we have not had any outbreaks attributed to Island Garden. We are as strict as we can be enforcing the demanding health protocols required by the Governor. This can be difficult at times and we are not always perfect, but be assured we try every day and continually remind staff and coaches of the requirements. We continue to limit space that is utilized and forbid any games and leagues. We are aware other facilities allow games and even host leagues but this is wrong and against the health policies of the Governor. We will not jeopardize the health of a single person who comes into Island Garden. This has a very negative impact on our income but we will find other ways meet our obligations other than taking risks and disobeying the law.
- We did not earn any income for almost six months. As a result, we were not able to pay rent and our other expenses. Since reopening, we have been paying our bills including rent. We are currently seeking a compromise with our landlord to share paying the expenses for the time we were closed. I am optimistic that the landlord will work with us to reach a fair solution. Be assured that the Island Garden and the hundreds of thousands of young athletes who have walked through our doors for over 22 years are my sole focus and more importantly, my passion. There is no way that any pandemic will ever interfere with the Island Garden being around for another 50 or more years!!!!!
- Our children need both in person schooling and basketball. There is no doubt that both contribute to the their mental and physical well being. We see so many stories about children struggling with depression because they have little to do. It is critical that we get them back on the courts as well as the classrooms. We have seen so much support for this position by parents through their registration of their children for our many clinics. Our coaches and administrators have done a tremendous job in putting only outstanding and well organized training sessions on the courts. Virtually all of the clinics have been sold out. The fear that most parents were going to be reluctant to return to play just has not materialized. The clinics have worked extremely well and will continue until we can begin league and tournament play. It is not a perfect solution but it does provide a way to get our players on the court.
- There is now light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the release of the vaccines. Based on current information, it is not unreasonable to plan that we will be playing games and tournaments in April or possibly May. Things may be a bit different but I am optimistic that the players, coaches and refs will be back on the courts this Spring. We must plan for the Spring now. Therefore, we are looking at our annual tryouts as taking place as always on Martin Luther King Day which is January 18, 2021. We will monitor conditions over the next two weeks before releasing final plans. Watch for details which will be released during the first week in January.
- We are very fortunate that we have the Island Garden and Long Island University – CW Post to house Lightning. We are not dependent upon school districts and private schools that so many other programs must deal with. In fact, watch for an announcement very soon about another great facility that Lightning will control.
- As far as Island Garden Leagues are concerned, we will begin play as soon as the Governor gives us the “Green Light”. We will begin registration once the start date becomes a real possibility. I very much hope that coaches and parents will remember that we followed the law and put the well being of our players at the forefront during the COVID-19 period when making your choice as to where to play in the future.
Finally, I cannot end my message without publicly thanking my great staff. Island Garden does not have the funds to pay them right now yet they work everyday to make sure that our players can have a place to come and enjoy the game they love. As I have said many times before, I am truly blessed to have such tremendously committed people who make up my team.
Happy Holidays to everyone and please stay safe and healthy. This terrible time is almost over but not quite yet.
In closing, on behalf of everyone at Island Garden, our prayers go out to every family who has lost a loved one during this terrible year. We can never lose sight of the tragedies that people have had to endure during the past nine months.