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Friday, June 21, 2024

$5M Sanctioned for Mohawk Harbor Arena by Schenectady County


SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady County legislative body gave the green light on Tuesday for a $5 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act funds. This substantial amount is earmarked for the construction of a state-of-the-art arena and events center at the scenic Mohawk Harbor.

This latest injection of public funds is a significant addition to the estimated $50 million project budget. The project, initiated last year by the Galesi Group, a renowned construction company, has been instrumental in the development of Mohawk Harbor.

Previously, the project had been bolstered by a $10 million state support grant. On Monday, the Schenectady City Council also approved a $2.5 million ARPA funding award for the project. The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority has further supported the project by granting mortgage and sales tax exemptions and entering into a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the developer.

Construction is slated to commence in the spring.

The proposed 97,000-square-foot facility has been a hot topic in Schenectady for some time. It was initially included in the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a $10 million state grant awarded in 2019 to stimulate economic development. However, the arena plans were eventually shelved in favor of other projects.

Metroplex Chair Ray Gillen expressed optimism that the arena will enhance the success of Mohawk Harbor. The harbor, which draws over 2 million visitors annually, boasts apartments, office spaces, and the Rivers Casino & Resort, among other attractions.

“The project has been a resounding success, but we can’t afford to be complacent. We face competition and the constant evolution of events and attractions,” Gillen said, referring to the harbor’s redevelopment.

The arena is set to become the new home for Union College’s Division I hockey teams, which currently play at the Messa Rink at the Achilles Center on campus. The college is expected to sign a long-term lease agreement with the Galesi Group.

The facility will accommodate 2,200 spectators for hockey games and 3,595 for other events such as concerts, conventions, and tradeshows.

The funding from Schenectady County includes a seven-year public benefits agreement. This agreement stipulates that the arena will serve as the back-up venue for the county’s popular SummerNight event and SUNY Schenectady graduation if the weather is unfavorable.

The arena is also obligated to host 15 ticketed events each year of the agreement. If the event goal is not met for a year, the Galesi Group must return one-seventh of the $5 million awarded by the county, according to the agreement.

Meeting the event goal should not pose a problem. Union College hockey teams had over 30 home games scheduled for the 2023-24 season.

The Galesi Group is expected to sign a public benefits agreement with the city of Schenectady. This agreement will also include clawbacks, or provisions for the return of money if certain goals are not met.

A special meeting of the City Council’s Development & Planning Committee is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to finalize the details of the agreement.

Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
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  1. Disagree, bad grammar: Such a waste of taxpayer money! Schenectady County should prioritize funding education and essential services instead. #Misallocation

  2. Disagree. There are more pressing needs in Schenectady County that would benefit from $5M, like improving healthcare facilities or investing in affordable housing. #PrioritizeEssentialNeeds


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