15 Year Deal Announced for Blue Cross Arena

The City of Rochester and Rochester Arena LLC (an affiliate owned and operated by Pegula Sports and Entertainment) announced that they’ve reached a long term agreement for management of Blue Cross Arena. The deal once approved by City Council will be effective January 1, 2019 and run through December 31, 2033.

Over the summer the City of Rochester terminated the previous agreement with SMG and the Pegula’s took over operating the arena on an interim basis through December 31, 2018.

The details of the long term agreement mirror the current interim contract.

  • Rochester Arena will pay $60,000 a year to the city to manage and operate the arena.
  • The deal includes concessions, ticketing, booking events, revenues from advertising, suite sales, and any other revenue generated by the arena.
  • Rochester Arena will pay all operating expenses along with half of the Rochester Police Departments costs for working security at arena events.
  • Rochester Arena will pay the city $100,000 to operate the Court St parking lot located behind the arena. The city will be able to use the parking lot at no cost for city employees or other emergency personnel.

The deal also announces that the city and Rochester Arena will each contribute $3 million towards capital improvements over the 15 year agreement. There weren’t any details included in what those are.

Over the summer a new scoreboard was installed along with LED ribbon boards along the balcony.

Operating the Court St parking lot will likely be the easiest money maker in this agreement.

Previous ownership of the Amerks, Steve Donner followed by Curt Styres, had struggled to make money with past lease agreements. Transferring operations of the arena to the Pegula owned affiliate is beneficial to everyone involved.

Over the course of 2018 the City of Rochester has announced the Roc the Riverway project which has included upgrades to the arena including bathrooms, improved concession areas, an Exchange St expansion, audio and visual upgrades, and improvements to the locker rooms. The project announced in February 2018 mentioned $37 million of improvements to the arena over the next 5 to 10 years.

There’s been talks about improvements for the previous five years but without a long term agreement in place to operate the arena the projects have stalled. Rob Minter, vice president of arena operations, has stated that they meet almost weekly on the timing of improvements to be completed.

A lot of improvements have been announced for the building but nothing has been discussed related to the seating within the arena. The seats can vary from section to section in both width and leg room. Depending where you are it can be a comfortable experience or you can move a section over and feel extremely uncomfortable.

Earlier this week Pegula Sports and Entertainment announced that they hired a consulting group for stadium and arena research to review New Era Field and KeyBank Center. The money that will be spent on those facilities will likely make any money spent in Rochester look like couch change.

A new arena in Rochester was never discussed or studied by the City of Rochester. The last major upgrades to the building were completed 20 years ago at a time that a new arena should have been built. Embrace the old facility, it’ll be here for the next generation as well.

The 15 year agreement is a sign that the Pegula’s are committed to Rochester and will ensure the viability of the Rochester Americans for years to come.

“This agreement will put the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial on a clear path to the highest tiers of regional sports and entertainment venues,” said Mayor Warren in a statement.

There’s a lot of work to be done but the future looks a little brighter today.

Here’s a full timeline of what’s been discussed with the arena: