Pegula’s Awarded NLL Expansion Team In Rochester — New Scoreboard — Blue Cross Arena Upgrades Outlined

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Today’s press event at the Blue Cross Arena served two purposes. First, to announce that the Pegula’s are being awarded an NLL expansion team for the 2019-20 NLL season. Second, to announce additional improvements and funding for the Blue Cross Arena.

The Pegula’s NLL expansion team will retain the Rochester Knighthawks name and its history. That being said, with the exception of the team’s branding and fanbase, the Rochester Knighthawks will be a new franchise. All of the players under contract for Curt Styres current franchise along with his staff (management included) will be moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia for the 2019-20 season. The Rochester Knighthawks expansion team will be selected from an NLL expansion draft. Nothing is changing for the 2018-19 season. The Rochester Knighthawks will play at the Blue Cross Arena under Curt Styres ownership.

There are numerous improvements being made to the Blue Cross Arena and there were lots of numbers being thrown around at today’s press conference. To date approximately $18 million in funding has been secured. Governor Cuomo has pledged $6 million via the ROC the Riverway Program, Senators Robach and Funke have secured $3.5 million, Assembly members Bronson, Gantt, and Morelle have secured $3.5 million, the City of Rochester has committed $3.3 million, and the New York Power Authority has pledged $275,000 for lighting upgrades (LED). Additionally the Pegula’s have pledged up to $1.5 million for a new scoreboard.

The only public-facing project expected to be completed before the start of the 2018-19 Amerks season is a new scoreboard. The old scoreboard has already been removed, and while I did not snap any pictures as I passed through the arena, I can assure you the new scoreboard installation is well underway. The new scoreboard is a high-definition Daktronics scoreboard. Four new 10ft by 16ft panels are wrapped and waiting to be mated with a new steel structure being assembled on the arena floor. The new scoreboard also features upper and lower LED panels. In addition to the main scoreboard, the Court Street scoreboards have been removed and there is a large ribbon board that will be installed in their place. I was not able to confirm if there are additional ribbon boards being installed anywhere else in the arena.

A new expansion on the the Genesee River side of the arena was unveiled. The renderings indicate that the expansion will house a restaurant, which during media questioning Mayor Warren indicated would mirror the 716 restaurant in Buffalo. That portion of the renovation is still in the very early stages. Who will operate the restaurant and the funding requirements to build out the space are not yet known. An arena expansion along Exchange St., which will expand office space and add a seating area near the Exchange St. concessions was outlined in a previous announcement. That project is now fully funded and is set for completion next summer.

Mayor Warren mentioned that a new roof and lighting upgrades are planned for the near future. No concrete schedule for those upgrades was offered. Whether the funding for the new roof was included in the $18 million currently secured was not made clear. The lighting upgrades are being funded by the New York Power Authority.

Sound system improvements are planned but no schedule for completion was offered. The same goes for bathroom upgrades — they are planned but renovations likely won’t begin until next summer.

Kim Pegula offered some insight as to why many improvements are being delayed until next year. Primarily that the building is showing its age and lots of “behind the scenes” upgrades are necessary before moving onto larger public-facing projects.

While the arena upgrades are exciting, perhaps the most important message delivered today is that the Pegula’s have committed themselves to Rochester. Throughout the last few years there have been rumors about moving the Amerks to another city. Where those rumors originated is anyone’s guess, but today’s press conference should put those rumors to rest. The Rochester Americans, Rochester Knighthawks, and the Pegula’s are staying in Rochester for the foreseeable future.

Chris Schiffner is the man behind the Amerks Extra Twitter feed and the chief editor of Chris founded Amerks Extra in order to provide fans with a voice during one of the most tumultuous periods in the organization's history. Amerks Extra has evolved into a leading source for Amerks news and discussion. When not covering Amerks Hockey, Chris is on the ice playing the game himself.

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