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      Local leaders respond to Crunch owner's plea for better attendance

      Crunch fans enjoy food at pre-game party

      Before the Syracuse Crunch took the ice in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County threw a pre-game party at the Everson Plaza for members of the community.

      The event followed a statement from Crunch owner Howard Dolgon, who said he was disappointed by the attendance of Wednesday night's Game 3, and felt that this team deserved a bigger home crowd.

      "I made a statement that I felt was honest, I felt that our team and the level of the hockey we were playing was so high, that it merited a better crowd, and I was disappointed," Dolgon said.

      Leading up to Game 4, in the Crunch's three home playoff games, they averaged 3955 people, about 20 percent less than last year's playoff average. It was also much less than Syracuse's 2012-2013 season average of roughly 5300. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she agreed with Dolgon, and that the community may have been distracted by the warmer temperatures.

      "I was disappointed as well," she says. "I think people just got distracted and it was a nice way to focus us."

      The focus came through as Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney responded, throwing "Pre-Game in the Plaza", a party with music, food trucks and fans leading up the Game 4. The party was arranged in roughly 24 hours, something Mahoney said was key in showing support for Syracuse's hockey team.

      "You've got to love the passion that Howard [Dolgon] has for this community," Mahoney says. "I know that Wednesday night he really wanted a sold-out arena and he didn't get it, so we're all hands on deck tonight to help sell it out."

      Game 4 did not sell out, but the numbers were back up to the season and normal playoff averages at 5,090. Dolgon was extremely complimentary about Mahoney's response, and excited about the support his team received, support he hopes lasts into the Eastern Conference Finals.

      "There's no question the support we get from the county...is critical, and [Mahoney's] been a big supporter from day one," Dolgon says.

      Syracuse does not know who they will play in the Eastern Conference Finals yet, but tickets will go on sale on Saturday at 10 a.m.