Working Past COVID: The Tri-City Americans continue the fight

KENNEWICK, Wash. — After the coronavirus pandemic forced the Tri-City Americans to cancel their season in 2020, the organization is continuing to work past restrictions in 2021.

Americans General Manager Bob Tory told KAPP-KVEW they initially thought COVID-19 was going to be a short term thing.

“There was so much uncertainty you had to be able to adjust from really, from week to week,” said Tory.

As coronavirus cases popped up throughout the country in March, Tory said the organization started taking action.

“We shut down our season we sent our players home,” said Tory. “We started laying staff off because of the uncertainty obviously which was unfortunate the impact you have on your employees and your business.”

Tory told KAPP-KVEW he thought numbers would improve by summer, but the pandemic had its grasp on the world as well as the organization.

The home of the Americans, the Toyota Center, would shift from a place fans gathered and rang cow bells, to a place families gathered to receive much needed food supplies.

“I couldn’t believe it when you saw the amount of cars lined up coming for the food distribution,” said Tory.

The Toyota Center hosted several drive-thru food distributions that served thousands of families in need.

“It’s much more than just hockey, there’s concerts here, there’s high school graduations, there’s conventions here, so it’s a place where the community comes together,” said Tory.

Now, hockey has resumed at the Toyota Center, and a limited number of fans are being allowed into the stadium.

Tory told KAPP-KVEW the organization is still facing many daily challenges to make it work.

The organization must follow Washington state protocols in regards to social distancing and masks, as well as cleaning the dressing rooms and bench areas.

Tory says the players and staff have to get tested for COVID-19 three times a week, which fortunately for the organization, has not received any positive results.

The Americans are allowed to have 400 people in the Toyota Center under Phase 3 guidelines, but hope that more fans can be in attendance as the season progresses.

The Americans are 5-7 this season with 12 games remaining.