Millions in improvements give boost to Iceplex

By ANDREA DECKERT

Rochester Business Journal

January 4, 2016

 

More than $2.5 million in improvements over the past two and a half years at the Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex have helped boost attendance and bring in out-of-state tournament groups.

There are additional plans to make the facility more energy-efficient.

“There’s no other ice rink around that is talking about doing what we are doing,” Iceplex general manager Chris Woodworth said.

Located on the Monroe Community College campus, the Iceplex is owned and operated by End 2 End Sports LLC, a Davie, Fla.-based management firm. End 2 End began managing the venue in October 2012 and bought the facility in April 2013.

The Iceplex is a 170,000-square-foot sports facility featuring four National Hockey League size ice rinks, a Bill Gray’s Restaurant, concession and snack offerings and on-site retail including a hockey equipment store.

The facility directly employs some 25 staffers, but also contracts for services such as referees and coaches.

The improvements done under the new ownership have included an upgraded dehumidifier system, information technology improvements and renovations to the rinks, restrooms, locker rooms and the front desk.

Future improvements include making the Iceplex more energy efficient, an idea that could include solar panel installation. The venue is partnering with VP Supply Corp. on the initiative, which it will roll out starting in the spring, prior to the start of the 2016-17 hockey season, Woodworth said.

The improvements are having a positive impact on the facility and surrounding area, according to a study conducted by Camoin Associates Inc. of Saratoga Springs.

The study results, released last summer, show the completed and proposed facility improvements will generate local construction jobs, create on-site jobs and enable the venue to attract new programs, tournaments and other events that will result in new spending at local businesses.

Additionally, the improvements will help retain existing activity at the Iceplex and the associated visitor spending that would otherwise shift to venues outside of Monroe County, the study shows.

When completed, the site improvements could draw 86,000 out-of-county visitors annually, generating $18.5 million in direct visitor spending at local businesses on categories such as accommodations, food, transportation, entertainment and other retail shopping, the study indicates.

Woodworth said the completed and upcoming facility improvements, along with cultivating relationships with professional tournament organizers, has put the Iceplex on the map as one of the top tournament host locations in North America.

The figures outlined in the Camoin study already have begun to come to fruition, with the facility adding numerous hockey tournaments for this winter, spring and summer and new relationships with out-of-state tournament organizers, he added.

The Iceplex has been experiencing increased attendance. It is projected to draw some 58,000 visitors this hockey season, up from nearly 42,000 spectators during the 2014-15 season.

In addition, the hockey rink has played host to events such as a World Cup soccer party and music concerts. The Iceplex also runs several programs, including public skating sessions, youth hockey and learn-to-skate programs and an adult hockey league.

Joe Visconte, of Invitational Hockey Tournaments LLC, serves as host to tournaments at the local site. In addition, his firm, which he runs with Patti Severo, opened a location there.

Opening an office at the Iceplex made sense because it allows customers to play a majority of their games at a single arena, which is centrally located to many hotels and restaurants, Visconte said.

The facility improvements also make the location desirable.

“The improvements they are doing there are creating an atmosphere that lends itself to a very comfortable, convenient and entertaining venue,” Visconte said. “They rate right up there with similar … facilities in other cities.”