A press conference was held on Thursday afternoon to announce that Pegula Sports and Entertainment would be awarded National Lacrosse League expansion team. It was also an opportunity for city and state officials to talk about planned upgrades to Blue Cross Arena.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment will be keeping the Rochester Knighthawks name and legacy. Players under contract with Curt Styres will remain under contract with him and the Halifax franchise. There will be an expansion draft for the Knighthawks roster. That’s the Knighthawks related news from the press conference, everything else was largely focused on the arena itself.
A NLL representative said that they have not worked out the details yet on whether or not the existing records (scores, championships, goals, assists, etc) will remain with the expansion Rochester Knighthawks or move with the existing franchise to Halifax.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment will own both the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks. The National Lacrosse League allows one owner to own multiple teams, something that has worked in Major League Soccer. Who will manage and operate day to day operations of the Knighthawks is to be determined.
We also had a first look at a brand new scoreboard that will be going into the arena for the 2018/2019 season, work was already underway this afternoon.
One of many things to takeaway from today is that the building isn’t going anywhere and any hopes of a new arena have come to an end.
Here’s a quick recap of what was discussed at the event:
No discussions at this time about interior improvement that impact the fan experience, specifically the seats.
There has been talks about a restaurant expansion on the riverside of the arena and we had the first look at what it could look like in the images below. There’s no time frame on when construction could start, they haven’t even put out request for proposals yet. I asked Mayor Lovely Warren if they had plans on who would run it she said that she believes Pegula’s hope for a 585 like restaurant, similar to 716 in Buffalo.
A new restaurant and sports bar at the arena would bring a big boost to those attending events before, after and all other times throughout the year.
The new scoreboard will have 10ft tall x 15ft wide video boards w/ LED rings around the top and bottom. It is already being constructed on the arena floor and will be going in the same place the existing scoreboard was – not in the center.
On the balcony side of the arena the old out of town scoreboards have been removed and LED ribbon boards will be installed there as well.
Not pictured but I did also learn that the new streaming service that will be running the AHLTV service was in the building recently to setup cameras for the service. The service will not just be relying on the scoreboard only feed, it’ll give fans new options to watch games online.
New funding was also announced to install new lighting inside of the arena. A time frame hasn’t been set for the installation but the infrastructure upgrades (lights, sound, wiring, electronics, etc) are a top priority.
A total of $18 million is planned for the building in the years ahead through local, state and private (PSE) funds. The Pegula’s have shown in Buffalo that they make things happen in timely fashion. It’s a small step but we’re seeing this already with a new scoreboard and can hope that the rest of the work will move fast next year.
To be updated with with the finer details on the funding.