Brad Jones: New arena would be a boost for Rochester
Evidence is mounting that Rochester can support and would benefit economically and culturally from a new arena, but it’s still premature to answer a resounding “yes” to the “should we build it?” question.
The key to getting to “yes” would be in securing major commitments from private investors to fund a large portion of a new arena, which would limit the amount of public dollars required. The process of engaging with private investors is just getting underway; a task force will soon be crafting a recommendation for the City Council on a framework for soliciting proposals from private developers. Only after the private investments are proposed will the City have the necessary information to be able to determine if a new arena is right for Rochester.
I am personally optimistic that we will find the right private partners for this project, and if so I would wholeheartedly support the development of a new arena. A recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that Rochester can support a 6,500 – 8,000 seat modern, multi-purpose sport and entertainment arena complex to replace the aging Taylor Arena. The current arena suffers from aging, insufficient infrastructure, limited sightlines, limited flexibility, and other challenges typical of buildings constructed in its era. These limitations prevent Rochester from attracting and retaining modern entertainment and sports franchises that would otherwise be drawn to our community.
A new arena would be designed with the awareness and appreciation that community members will be its primary users. It would offer a diverse array of affordable entertainment, arts, and sports events, and is estimated to generate more than $4 million of estimated direct spending in Rochester annually. Supporting a new arena would not preclude supporting other important priorities in our growing and changing city, including affordable housing, which is a significant and timely issue for the rapidly increasing hospitality workforce that my organization represents.
I’m hoping we can eventually answer the “should we build it?” question with an unequivocal “yes!” Stay tuned as the City explores private partnerships that could turn a new arena from vision to reality.
Brad Jones is executive director of the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau.