Dear Union College Community:
You may have seen or heard local media reports today that New York State has committed $10 million towards a proposed hockey arena and events center at Mohawk Harbor. If not, I encourage you to read this story in the Daily Gazette.
I also wanted you to hear Union’s position on this project directly from me in the hopes of answering questions you may have.
First, I want to make it clear that Union College is not building the new ice rink.
We are negotiating a long-term lease to be the primary tenant in this proposed new facility. The rink, which would be adjacent to campus and part of the thriving Mohawk Harbor, would provide our men’s and women’s hockey teams with a significantly upgraded facility, and our fans with a much-improved experience.
This facility, which also could be used for conventions, trade shows, non-Union sporting events and other activities, will benefit the entire Schenectady region. It is an important part of the continued renaissance of our city, and I am proud that Union College can play a key role in this development.
The timing also is fortuitous for the College. Like many of you, I greatly appreciate the tradition and history of Messa Arena at Achilles Center. It has been a fantastic place to watch Union hockey. Still, as anyone who has seen a game can attest, the rink is in need of significant upgrades – both to enhance the game experience for our fans and to shore up its mechanical infrastructure.
Doing nothing is not an option, which leaves us with three basic choices: Build a new rink of our own, repair and renovate Messa or enter into the type of leasing arrangement currently being negotiated. The Mohawk Harbor option provides us the best option, and because expenses are shared with other parties, it is also the most cost-effective option.
This facility, combined with our recent approval to offer scholarships in both men’s and women’s hockey, is certain to broaden the appeal of Union hockey in the community and among prospective student-athletes. Most importantly, a thriving Schenectady and enhanced student experience will help us attract even more outstanding students and further elevate the College’s national reputation.
As an added benefit, moving our hockey programs out of Messa will free up valuable space in the Achilles Center for other uses. While no decisions have yet been made on how to repurpose that space, there are myriad possibilities to be explored.
As excited as we are about this project, let me stress that we haven’t yet reached agreement with the developer on lease terms. Those discussions are ongoing. We are optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement that is good for all parties, and begin using the new facility for the 2024-2025 seasons.
Union College has long been an integral part of the Schenectady community. I am excited about this latest opportunity for the College to grow and improve alongside our community partners.
I will keep you updated as this matter develops.