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Op-ed: Public money should not be used to build a new arena

Op-ed: Public money should not be used to build a new arena

I started walking and learned how to ice skate almost immediately after. I grew up in an ice arena spending almost seven days a week there. My brothers played hockey and I was a figure skater.

All these years later I still go the Rec Center to skate. So when Rec Center remodel was proposed nine years ago, I was thrilled. I've skated in rinks all over this country and have seen how outdated our facility is. But as the plans, funding, and now construction have progressed, my excitement waned.

 
 

Few of the upgrades will affect the rinks for figure skating or hockey and continue to limit those clubs expansions efforts. And then the news drops in September that there's consideration for a $50 million ice arena to bring a new team in. While it's early on in the discussion and planning, my mind wonders:

  • Where was this money for the Rec Center upgrade that's barely scraping by?
  • Couldn't we have foreseen this hockey team option and have improved the Rec Center to meet the needs of a growing community at some point in the last nine years?
  • Why can we consider funds for a new team and facility, but leave the community’s existing hockey and figure skating programs in an older facility and not meet their needs?

I've been watching hockey and skating all my life. I'd be thrilled to be able to watch more hockey in the Med City. But I just don't think a public-private partnership is right for this proposal.

If a feasibility study is good enough, private investors will make it happen; and when they do, I’ll be happy to buy a ticket and beer at the first game.

Kelly Corbin is a public health advocate living in Rochester.


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