CITY OF JOHNSTOWN — On Friday, for the first time publicly, City of Johnstown resident Tim Rizzo unveiled his concept for building a non-profit winter sports complex in Fulton County that would include three ice rinks for ice hockey, skating and curling, as well as a daycare centre, fitness center and emergency services building.
Now all it needs is around $35 million and a place to build it.
“It will be a multi-purpose, multi-use facility that children and families can use year-round,” Rizzo told the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth board of trustees at its meeting Friday.
Rizzo presented the CRG board with a 40-page prospectus, along with a slideshow, detailing the nonprofit company he started, called Upstate Ice Plex Inc., which uses the letters “UIP” as its logo. ” in orange in a black circle. Rizzo said he completed all of the regulatory steps necessary to create the nonprofit, an essential step in applying for state and federal grants.
Rizzo told CRG he has bipartisan support in Congress from U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, and U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand, D-NY, for his request for federal funding to help launch the idea. .
Gillibrand included a request for $6 million in federal funding for Rizzo’s Upstate Ice Plex plan among Fulton County’s three economic development projects, totaling $16.5 million, she supports inclusion on the Appropriations Committee of the Senate for consideration as part of the federal government’s 2023 budget, which has yet to pass.
Rizzo also applied for a $2 million grant through the New York State Consolidated Funding application process, as well as a $50,000 matching grant, which he said would be used to create a proforma concept report, a document that attempts to create a solid hypothetical financial report. statement that makes reasonable assumptions about future revenues and values associated with a potential business enterprise that does not yet exist.
“That would help us pilot our location,” Rizzo said.
In the papers Rizzo presented to the CRG, he included his inspiration for the winter sports complex, a project proposed in the late 1990s by retired art teacher Mary Jean Cleland, who was to donate of 50 acres of land to an entity called Wilderness Inc. which had gone through some of the regulatory stages to try to build a similar idea. Ultimately, it didn’t happen.
While Rizzo said Cleland’s land donation was no longer available for the idea, the concept of developing a regional winter sports center is still a good one if he can secure the funding to do so.
Joseph Semione, chairman of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, attended Rizzo’s presentation. While Semione said Rizzo’s idea sounds interesting, he cautioned that in his experience evaluating projects, he’s found that a facility of the size Rizzo proposes could cost up to $3 million per year to maintain.
Rizzo said he needed the pro forma concept report to help show that Upstate Ice Plex might be able to generate the revenue needed to sustain itself. He said his nonprofit needed about $25,000 for the $50,000 matching grant to write the report. He said he hoped to be able to raise funds through his non-profit organization’s website www.upstateiceplex.org.
The Upstate Ice Plex Inc. Board of Directors includes Rizzo, Ron Bucinell, Kevin Capobianco and Brian Scherer.
Capobianco helped Rizzo with his report on Friday. He explained his hopes for how spreading the concept will help bring it to fruition.
“I hope anyone who wants to get involved with this project will take a look and come back with ideas,” Capobianco said. “Right now that’s our concept, and we’re looking to Montgomery County, Fulton County, all (the different local economic development entities) to say ‘here’s what we think,’ and as a council, we’ll collectively figure out what makes the most sense. Where’s the best infrastructure? Where can we make that traffic easy and accessible, and for people to get there?”