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Feasibility study approved on multipurpose sports, entertainment complex in Massena

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MASSENA — Depending on the results of an upcoming feasibility study, Massena could become home to a multipurpose sports and entertainment complex that could potentially include a hotel, an indoor-outdoor water park, ice rinks and an indoor turf field.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, in a statement released Friday morning, said the town board voted 5-0 to fund a feasibility study to look at whether such a venture could be profitable.

“In a 5-0 vote after an executive session Wednesday evening, the Town Council agreed to a memorandum of understanding with Manhattan Investment Partners and its affiliate, Venue Strategies LLC, to jointly pursue an effort on a phased basis regarding the analysis, planning, programming and development of the proposed multipurpose events center to serve Massena and the surrounding region,” Mr. Gray said.

While little had been known about the project, Mr. Gray said the idea has been in the works for some time.

“We’ve been negotiating with Venue Strategies for about six months on this project. I wasn’t sure if we were ready to finalize it, but after discussing it further with Town Attorney Eric Gustafson at our meeting Wednesday, we decided to move ahead with the MOU,” Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray and Mayor James F. Hidy credited the Business Development Corporation and its executive director, Thomas Sullivan, with helping to bring the project to this point.

Mr. Hidy said the village will not be taking any action related to the project, as the town has agreed to fund the study using up to $82,000 in gaming compact revenue.

“There are a whole bunch of ideas that the study will look at,” Mr. Gray said. “We don’t know if any of these ideas or all of them will be viable, but we’re going to take a look at it.”

Venue Strategies principal partner David Machlica, in Friday’s release, said his Manhattan-based firm was looking forward to working with Massena officials.

“We believe such a facility has the potential to add measurably to the quality of life of the community and act as a significant catalyst for economic growth,” he said.

Phase one of the project involves a market demand study focusing on the Massena region and an area within a roughly 65-mile radius. The study will seek to identify the market need and demand for a multipurpose event center in the town of Massena.

Specifically, the study will examine the market demand for multiple venues, including an indoor-outdoor year-round water park; ice sheets for hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, clinic and camps; an expandable indoor turf space for all sports such as lacrosse, soccer, softball, baseball, football and gymnastics; special event and meeting space for conventions, meetings, trade shows, concerts and events; health and wellness activities such as an indoor track, rock climbing, fitness spaces and aerobics/dance studios; lodging in the form of a hotel at the facility, and ancillary space such as restaurants, retail shops and equipment rentals.

Neither Mr. Gray nor Mr. Hidy would identify potential sites for the project, but both said several locations have been discussed.

Both also said the complex would provide an economic boost for the community.

Mr. Gray and Mr. Hidy stressed that the project is not designed as a replacement for the Massena Arena.

“There is no connection between the arena, Dick’s and this project,” Mr. Gray said. “That is merely a coincidence. The arena is not going anywhere.”

“This is not being proposed by the town or village,” Mr. Hidy added. “This is a private company looking to locate here.”

Mr. Gray said once the study begins, the town should have a completed report within four months.

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