With Nexus Center construction set to resume, local teams look forward to more ice time
The Aud Authority recently closed on bonds that will allow construction to resume at the Nexus Center in downtown Utica, a move that is certain to delight youth hockey leagues across the region.
Nicole Kirnan-Kelly, director of junior hockey for the Utica Jr. Comets, said due to the vast number of youth hockey organizations in the Mohawk Valley there are not enough available ice slots to host large tournaments in the area.
The current ice arena facilities in the region yield enough ice time to allow local youth teams to have their allotted home games, she said, but there is little time left over, for things like tournaments.
Youth hockey teams currently travel to seven to 10 tournaments per year, which incur costs such as gas, hotels and food, for the youths and their families, Kirnan-Kelly said. Nexus will allow local teams to save money and also invigorate the area’s economy with teams from out of the area coming to Utica for tournaments.
“The opening of the Nexus Center will change the trajectory of how athletes in a number of sports grow and develop throughout Central New York,” Kirnan-Kelly said in an email.
“In sports such as hockey, figure skating, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, and others, our local youth will have access to exponentially more individual and team training slots," she said. "Not only will the youth of Mohawk Valley have access to more practice time, they will have also reaped the benefits of an athlete centered gym and training area.”
What is Nexus?
Designed as a 170,000-square-foot building along Whitesboro Street next to the Adirondack Bank Center at Utica Memorial Auditorium, Nexus is slated to be a sports recreation facility primarily used for ice hockey, box lacrosse and soccer.
The $67 million project will include locker rooms, commercial office space, retail space, food and beverage services and other multipurpose training spaces.
Ground was broken at the site in February 2020, though construction halted in May due to the coronavirus pandemic and cash flow issues.
The county had faced a lawsuit filed by the contractor working on the Nexus Center.
Hueber-Breuer of Syracuse, the contractor, was suing the Upper Mohawk Valley Auditorium Authority and Oneida County for at least $10.4 million for work completed on the project. The lawsuit was filed in October 2020 and has since been dropped, with the county starting to pay back the owed money in September.
Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority Chairman Carl Annese said the authority closed on the bonding Tuesday.
“We are already moving forward with our engineers and construction team,” Annese said.
The Oneida County Board of Legislators unanimously approved a bonding agreement with the Aud Authority in August to cover the costs of completing the Nexus Center.
The agreement looks at the initial dispersal of funding, what each side will assume and conditions if obligations are not met in full.
The agreement calls for $31 million in bonds at around a 3% interest over the next 30 years, officials said in August.
Annese did not state how much the authority bonded for.
Andy Breuer, Hueber-Breuer president said he feels the project is on a good path and the construction company is anxious to restart construction.
"We are making plans to re-engage on the project before the end of the month,” Breuer said.
Neither Annese nor Breuer said when construction would restart. Officials expect Nexus to be completed by the end of summer 2022.
Ed Harris is the Oneida County reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Ed Harris at EHarris1@gannett.com.