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War Memorial Site

Before construction started on the War Memorial

SMG’s contract to run the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial is coming up. The city put out a Request for Proposals for a management company.

The Blue Cross Arena was built in 1955 and underwent a $41 million renovation in 1998. It gets about a half-million dollar city subsidy every year, as well as $905,000 in hotel motel tax. The income from the Blue Cross Arena is almost entirely eaten up by debt service.

The facility is home to the Amerks, Knighthawks, Razorsharks and Lancers. The Razorsharks, tired of playing third fiddle, want to move to the Dome Arena.

The arena can only fit about 12,000 people for events, making it hard to attract very large contacts away from CMAC and Darien Lake. But it still books a number of events throughout the year.

Is there something that should be done to bolster the arena and bring in more revenue? Is there something lacking in current management? It’s hard to see the city making a change without a significant new direction in mind.

Perhaps Terry Pegula, owner of the Amerks, will submit a proposal. Or buy the place.

Links of the Day:

– A study says Monroe County has poor oversight over its multiple ambulance services.

City children are not taking advantage of free summer meals.

– A football movie starring Kevin Costner as the Buffalo Bills GM will now be based on the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland offered better tax incentives.

– “Milk smashing” has made its way to Western New York Tops and Wegmans stores.

– A Delaware County teacher complains about scripted lesson modules. She’s not teaching a “class of androids.”

The mayor’s proposed 2012-13 budget lays out how much taxpayers subsidize public facilities. The total comes to slightly more than $2 million, relatively flat compared to this fiscal year. Is that too much money for the quality of life we get in return? Which places you think are most worthwhile?

Riverside Convention Center – $642,800

This amount includes the operation of Pier 45 at the port. The county’s subsidy of the convention center, through the hotel/motel tax is $795,000.

Pier 45 – $178,384

Otherwise known as “Convention Center North,” Pier 45 is run by the convention center as a restaurant and event space. Mayor Bob Duffy wasn’t comfortable leasing out the facility to a private entity, a costly decision. On the other hand, it’s not clear if anyone could have made it work without a subsidy.

Port of Rochester (Terminal Building) – $341,600

The city only collects $99,000 in rent from the tenants, not enough to pay for upkeep. It’s a beautiful facility and I love the clean bathrooms. Perhaps the city will be able to up the retail offerings and rental income when the area is further developed.

War Memorial – $491,300

I hope the budget includes money for new brass letters on the outside of the building. Since I took the picture to the right, more letters have disappeared. I suspect they were sold for scrap.

Soccer Stadium – $416,800

The hope is to have the Rhinos pick up more of the tab as years go by. Should we be holding our breath?

High Falls Center – $186,800

This includes a restaurant, museum and event space. At one point the city explored selling the facility, but that’s not mentioned anywhere in the budget.

(In case you’re wondering, Frontier Field is a county-owned facility not subsidized by the city.)

I walked from Corn Hill to the East End early this afternoon.

Downtown was a ghost town. I realize it was New Year’s Day. But every time I make this trip on Saturdays or Sundays, it’s downright spooky. There were very few cars and people. It’s like that on weekends no matter the season.

I felt like Will Smith in I Am Legend – minus the zombies.

Absent an event at the Blue Cross Arena or the library having Saturday hours, it’s so quiet. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Court St. always has people outside in the summer waiting for tables. But there are big swaths of pure loneliness along the way. The Midtown block is particularly unsettling.

Speaking of the arena, are the missing letters on its sign victims of metal thieves or wear and tear?

When your downtown functions mostly as a corporate business district, with restaurants all closed up at night and on weekends, the emptiness is to be expected.

There were signs of life in the East End. A couple families ice skated at Manhattan Square Park. Spot Coffee was open, but sadly out of the brownies I’d been craving. (I wish Corn Hill had a coffee shop!) The Little Theatre was in business.

If and when Midtown is rebuilt, it’s important to connect it to the East End, which is only a stone’s throw away.