City Council Approved PSE Management and Blue Cross Arena Upgrades

Changes are coming to Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. Rochester City Council held their monthly meeting on July 24, 2018 and went through two formalities approving (without any objections) the interim management agreement with Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) and also authorizing agreements for the Blue Cross Arena upgrades project.

PSE and the City of Rochester have already worked out details of the management agreement set to take effect on August 1st, it was just a formality for City Council to approve of it. The interim agreement from August 1 through December 31 is expected to lead to a long term agreement. PSE will be paying monthly rent to the city and take over all aspects of the arena – concessions, tickets, booking events and agreements with other tenants.

The last day for SMG as the management company of the arena was on July 13. That was also the last day for some long term SMG employees including Jeff Calkins who had been in charge of the arena for over 30 years.

According to people I’ve talked to the only remaining jobs that weren’t being impacted inside of the arena were union stagehands and the maintenance team. Other staffing needs are under review including ushers and security that everyone has known at the arena for decades.

What all of this means for popular concession foods like chicken fingers, wraps and garbage plates along with beer selections is still an unknown. The first event planned for the arena under the new agreement is a WWE event on August 26.

The second item approved by city council was the agreement with Bergman Associates for the Blue Cross Arena upgrade project. Upgrades are planned to the bathrooms, visual systems, audio system upgrades have an estimated cost of $3.5 million. Costs related to the Exchange St expansion and possible river side restaurant have been listed as “to be determined as design and related estimates are developed.” The initial timetable for the bathrooms was set for 2020.

PSE will certainly have a say with what happens to the building going forward but neither side has answered questions one way or another if these upgrades will be reassessed going forward before any construction begins.

When the 2017/2018 season came to a conclusion there weren’t any TV’s throughout the arena concourses or in the atrium. We can only hope that once the 2018/2019 season starts they can at least upgrade the internal wiring to add TV’s.

More details should be coming soon as PSE prepares for the agreement taking effect on August 1.

Here’s everything that was included in the April and May requests for proposals from the city:

Discussions of all the upgrades discussed over the last few years has been documented here: