Hindsight is 20/20 When it Comes to Blue Cross Arena

On December 29th I went to my first ever Amerks road game at Utica. I have been to the ole’ Aud several times in my life including back in June for a UFC Fight Night, but I was extremely excited about this because the Utica Comets have sold out an AHL record 135 consecutive games so I wanted to check out a game there.

What I had was an epiphany. What I discovered is how badly Rochester screwed up when it came to a sports arena, multi-use facility. The Adirondack Bank Center as it is now called seats 3,917 for hockey and with steep bleachers there was not a bad seat in the house.

Opening Faceoff from Amerks/Comets on December 29, 2018 at Adirondack Bank Center. Utica won the game, 4-3. The game was officially sold out but there were some seats not filled.

As many people know, the Blue Cross Arena has been showing its age. It is quite the unique arena since having its major renovation in 1998. The beautiful front atrium with indoor ticket lobby leads to a narrow concourse that enters into a dimly lit arena with a low ceiling and small seats that are shoehorned everywhere.

According to www.hockeydb.com (http://www.hockeydb.com/nhl-attendance/att_graph.php?tmi=7733 ) The Amerks are currently drawing 5,146 fans per game in a building that holds 11,215 for hockey. I have been an Amerks flexpack holder the last three seasons and have been there when there has been 2,000 fans in that building and 8,500 fans in that building. I have never been there for a true sell out. Clearly as an every day sports arena, the capacity is too large for the tenants we have. The roughly 8,500 fans that I have seen I would consider a sellout for Amerks hockey. Short of the Calder Cup Finals or Brian Gionta suiting up for the Amerks again, I don’t see the Amerks being able to break that number regularly.

The arena had been put on the back burner by the city as it has been trying to figure out how to build a new performing arts center downtown. Billionaire Tom Golisano initially donated $25 million towards it and then pulled his donation (https://www.wxxinews.org/post/golisano-pulls-support-proposed-performing-arts-complex-rochester).

Back in November the City of Rochester made an agreement with Pegula Sports & Entertainment (PSE) who own the Buffalo Bills, Sabres, and Rochester Americans to run the Blue Cross Arena for the next 15 years (http://www.mpnnow.com/news/20181129/city-pegulas-reach-deal-to-run-blue-cross-arena). The deal of course locks the Pegula’s long term to Rochester which keeps the Amerks here.

Hindsight being 20/20, it would have been interesting to had seen PSE partner with RIT to build a stand alone, 5,000-5,500 seat sports arena somewhere in Monroe County that could have housed the Amerks, Knighthawks, RIT, Razorsharks, that lone St. Bonaventure game and other sports events. This would have left the Blue Cross Arena to the city which it could then give the Rochester Broadway Theater League the performing arts center that it wanted. It could have be renovated to fit their needs while still being the major concert venue for the city.

Hindsight being 20/20, the Amerks would have built a modern version of the Utica Aud that would never look like an empty building.
Hindsight being 20/20, the city would have realized it has a facility that doesn’t fit the area’s needs and could convert it into something that would give it better usage for years to come. Hindsight being 20/20, PSE would have seen that the current arena does not fit their needs and building their own facility would have cut out the middle man. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would have thought of this idea years ago because now it is too late.