UTICA, NY -- The proposed Nexus Center is one step closer to becoming a reality, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the sports complex will receive $22 million in state funding, during his State of the State address budget proposal.
The Nexus Center will built adjacent to the Adirondack Bank Center and used for hockey, lacrosse, soccer and other sporting events. The plan is to draw youth teams from across the state and Canada.
"I think in year one we'll probably hit halfway mark at 150 to 180,000 per year," said Rob Esche, president and CEO of the Utica Comets. "We like to be fully operational running around 325,000 somewhere in that neighborhood through the door, which I think is very doable."
The project was first proposed during the State of the County address, by Oneida County executive Anthony Picente. The plan is a part of the U District which includes a casino and a beer museum. Picente said the U District has always been 'one piece at a time.'
"I think getting Nexus up and built is really our main focus right now and then we have to look at what us possible going forward," he said. "Maybe it's something different, maybe we extend into other sports venues or we look at other amenities. But I think everything is open for review, it will really take time to see how things shake out."
It is projected to cost around $44 million but that state is only paying for half of the costs.
"We are in the process of determining the area funding stream that will pay that because obviously it's going to be bonded for," Picente said. "The issue is paying the debt service, how much of what Nexus opens can assume some of that debt service as revenue that comes in, how much of it are we going to seek in from other sources."
Picente said he expects to learn more information about additional funding for the project over the next several days and will have a more detailed announcement in the near future.
Picente mentioned that once the center is done it will be a big boost to local tourism.
"It means tournament play weekends year-round, which in other circles attracts hundreds of thousands of times over the course of a year and that means hotel rooms, restaurants," he said. "The key to this is that it will be the only structure that is comparable to the nearest one in Marlborough, [Massachusetts] or in Canada so we're really capturing a great audience that will add and attract people from all across the Northeast."
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said the center will make a significant impact on the area.
“The Nexus Center is a key part of the revitalization of the entire Greater Utica region," he said, in a written statement. "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for supporting this project and for encouraging new investments to spur economic growth in our city.”
The goal is break ground on the site by the end of this year or early next year. The center should be complete by 2020.