Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the grand opening of the $64 million Nexus Center in downtown Utica. The announcement comes in advance of a ceremonial “puck drop” to be held later this evening by local officials. Thanks to state support, which includes $22 million through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, the 170,000 square-foot tournament-based recreation and sporting complex will be utilized for ice hockey, box lacrosse, soccer and other field sports, and will draw competitive youth teams from across the U.S. and Canada. The Nexus Center is projected to host 24 hockey and 24 lacrosse tournaments each year, welcoming more than 320,000 annual visitors and generating over $26 million annually in direct visitor spending.
“The completion of the world-class Nexus Center cements the State’s ongoing vision for a reimagined Utica as a destination for sports fans and families alike,” Governor Hochul said. “Thanks to an assist from New York, this facility will surely put the Mohawk Valley’s economy on a winning streak for years to come.”
The Nexus Center has three sheets of ice and is located next to the Adirondack Bank Center, the home of the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets, Utica University men’s and women’s hockey programs and the Utica Jr. Comets youth hockey organization. The ice can be easily transformed into field-based surfaces to support turf sports. In addition, the Nexus Center offers more than 25 locker rooms, commercial office space, college classroom space, retail space, food and beverage services, and other multi-purpose training spaces.
The Nexus Center will focus on out-of-town tournament participants year-round, while catering to local athletes during the week for practices and training. When the facility is not actively being used for a tournament or other events, it will function as a community sports and recreation center for area sports organizations, high schools and colleges. The connectivity of the Nexus Center to the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium also enhances its overall regional impact and scope. Future plans for the Nexus Center include expanding to a four-season sporting center, with the potential to add outdoor multi-use sports fields to the north and into the Harbor Point area – a vision consistent with the Utica Harbor Master Plan.
Utica University has recently announced its partnership with the Nexus Center to enhance is Sports Management program, providing a highly innovative, first-of-its kind opportunity for students in the sports management program to gain real, professional experience. The Nexus Center will allow students to have a hands-on, interactive learning experience to help put their foot in the door when searching for employment upon graduation. In the last decade, the sports industry skyrocketed from 23rd to the sixth largest industry across the country. Utica University has roughly 40 students currently in the sports management program.
This URI award, along with many other additional state investments has helped transform downtown Utica as a new and exciting urban center. With the input of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council and other stakeholders, the downtown neighborhoods have been reimagined as destinations for urban entertainment, recreation, sports, and entrepreneurship.
Key investments include the newly renovated Utica Memorial Auditorium which is home the Utica Comets hockey team and the Utica City Football Club of the Major Arena Soccer League; loft apartments along Genesee and State Streets and in the Bagg’s Square neighborhood; a $300 million State investment to help a new hospital reshape downtown; $6 million in URI funding for Utica’s Harbor Point Bulkhead Project, the last remaining infrastructure improvement needed to entice private sector development; and the $1 billion public-private partnership with Wolfspeed, which has created hundreds of jobs at the Marcy Nanocenter.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Paraphrasing another all-star, hockey great Wayne Gretzgy, Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York State is truly skating to the where the puck is going, not where it has been. This exciting facility will be an economic driver for Utica, attracting residents to downtown and bringing in thousands of visitors a year to the region.”
State Senator Joseph Griffo said, “I am pleased that the Nexus Center in downtown Utica is open, and I appreciate the efforts of all those who worked together to make this important project a reality. This new recreation and sporting complex will attract visitors and families to the area and support and grow the local and regional economies. The Nexus Center, along with the enhanced Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, will serve as a catalyst for future growth and development in the region and complement that which is already taking place in Utica and the Mohawk Valley.”
Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon said, “The entire Central New York Community will benefit from all the Nexus Center has to offer. This addition brings a variety of venue opportunities from sports to community and special events and with that, an influx of visitors and economic benefits. I also was able to secure $600,000 for the state-of-the-art educational programming that Utica University will provide in a partnership at the Nexus Center. The Nexus Center is yet another jewel to add to the growth of the City of Utica, Oneida County and our entire region.”
Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Lawrence T. Gilroy III, President of Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy, Inc. and Dr. Marion Terenzio, SUNY Cobleskill President said, “The Nexus Center is an essential part of the strategic vision for the transformation of Downtown Utica, already well on its way to becoming a world-class destination that will promote economic growth in Utica and the Region. Not only will the Nexus Center drive tourism, it creates an inviting and dynamic entertainment center downtown for residents and future residents looking to call the Mohawk Valley home.”
Chairman of the Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority, Carl Annese said, “This world-class facility is a game changer for the Mohawk Valley Region and will be a key catalyst for economic growth for the local economy. I would like to thank Governor Hochul, the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, Empire State Development and Oneida County for the ongoing support which helped make this project a reality.”