Work Upgrades Facility Infrastructure, Enhances Concession Concourse, and Adds New Locker Room Suite
Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - the Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of first phase improvements to the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, transformative project aimed at enhancing the patron experience at the multi-purpose facility on Exchange Boulevard in downtown Rochester. Completed work includes upgrades to the arena's audio/visual system, public restroom improvements, concourse concession area enhancements, and a new locker room suite that will also function as additional dressing room space for large productions.
"As we build New York back better than before, we must embrace transformative projects that harness and maximize the potential of our urban areas," Governor Cuomo said. "The upgrades to Blue Cross Arena are just the beginning of our $50 million effort to reimagine and transform the waterfront along the beautiful Genesee River. Not only will this project open waterfront access, but it will drive tourism, spur economic growth and encourage the investments that will help Rochester thrive for generations to come."
"Projects like the transformation of Blue Cross Arena represent how we are utilizing Rochester's beautiful waterfront to promote tourism, boost small businesses and create jobs," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Through our ROC the Riverway initiative, we are further putting Rochester on the map."
The second phase of the project, which is receiving $6 million in state funding through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative, is now being designed and construction is expected to begin in 2022. Work includes the creation of an exterior river terrace at the facility, opening the building to views of the Genesee River, as well as additional renovations to the arena's dated infrastructure.
In February 2018, Governor Cuomo announced a $50 million commitment by the state to ROC the Riverway, an initiative aimed at unlocking the potential of Rochester's waterfront and helping this area become a vibrant attraction for commerce, recreation and tourism. Six months later and after receiving input from the community, the Governor announced 13 projects selected to receive state support, including the $6 million overhaul of Blue Cross Arena
To date, all projects are either in the design phase, under construction or have been completed. These projects include the incredibly successful community ROC City Skate Park, which was built under the I-490 Fredrick Douglass-Susan B, Anthony Bridge.
"The Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial is a major engine of job creation, tourism and downtown vibrancy for our city, so our investments here will pay dividends for generations," said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. "I am grateful that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and our State Legislature understand the value of this facility as part of the Rock the Riverway Program and are supporting these much-needed renovations with state dollars. Maintaining a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue in our center city is a critical component in the fight for more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for all of Rochester's citizens."
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State has made unprecedented investments in Rochester. The state has made major investments to strengthen the downtown community, including more than $100 million committed to projects in and around the city center. That commitment has leveraged more than $800 million in private investment supporting Rochester's Downtown Innovation Zone which is home to close to 200 businesses.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "Returning to live events will be a vital building block for New York as we reimagine, rebuild and renew -- and these initial, transformative upgrades at the Blue Cross Arena will add to the excitement of attending a game or concert in the heart of downtown Rochester's waterfront district. The arena renovations also reflect New York's investment in the ROC The Riverway initiative, leveraging public dollars and encouraging private investment to boost the economy and support a thriving city center along the beautiful Genesee River where people want to live, work and play."
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, "This renovation is an early step in reimagining our city through "Roc the Riverway." As we continue to recover from the pandemic, the revitalization of our downtown will be essential in bringing jobs and tourism back to our community. The Governor's continued investment will pay dividends for the families of Rochester."
Assemblyman Harry Bronson said, "As chair of the Assembly's Economic Development Committee, I am pleased to see the completion of Phase One of the Blue Cross Arena project. This partnership, between the city and the state, is vital to the economic prosperity of our region. Blue Cross Arena serves as a catalysis for growth in the city center. I look forward to joining the families of Rochester for a post-COVID-19 concert at these enhanced facilities."
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, "I want to thank New York State and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for their dedication to revitalizing Downtown Rochester. The Genesee River and our riverfront properties have incredible opportunities for tourism, commerce and recreation, investments such as this will help our city reached its full potential. The renovations to the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial are a significant step in the right direction and will take advantage of the resources provided to us here in Monroe County. I can't wait to see what more improvements are made through the ROC the Riverway initiative."
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy and SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles said, "The Regional Council is so incredibly proud to support the transformative changes at the Blue Cross Arena. The Roc the Riverway plan represents a true partnership with the city of Rochester and with regional stakeholders who remain committed to working together in support of the initiative. The plan represents a solid way forward in support of the magnificent transformation that is already happening in Rochester's Downtown Innovation Zone, helping to create an exciting environment where people, young and old, want to be."
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The state has already invested more than $8 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million state investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015, initiative will incentivize private business to invest more than $2.5 billion. The region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.