Work will begin as early as next month on the massive renovations to the former Family First Sports Park now that the complex has officially switched hands.
There's a new owner, a new name and a bright future for the once-troubled Family First Sports Park... if all goes as planned. After four years of work, a stable future is in sight for the former Family First complex, now Erie Bank Sports Park.
This week, the Greater Regional Erie Athletic Team Training (GREATT) announcing the purchase of the facility and Erie Bank's partnership. President of GREATT, Bob Catalde, says, "one of the things that became very apparent, very quickly was this is where we need to be; it's perfect".
Dave Zimmer, Erie Bank President, says, "this is kind of a revenue driver too. As tourneys come in it will fill up hotels, restaurants... it will pay county hotel tax. I think it's just a win-win-win for everyone in this area in this community".
Plans include a $9.1 million renovation. The first phase, building two NHL regulation-sized ice rinks to replace the current indoor soccer fields, construction of eight full-sized ice rink locker rooms, resurfacing the basketball courts, dome and turf renovations and work on the outdoor grass fields.
Catalde says, "I would not exclude any sport, really, if we can help with it. It's important to these kids, sports are important for kids, team concepts are important for kids and this is what we are trying to accomplish".
And for those that will actually be using the ice and the fields, they are excited to have another place to practice and play.
Thomas Francoeur, Cathedral Prep. Hockey Player, says, "everybody loves hockey in Erie and with the addition of this new arena, it blows us away.... this is one of the things I have been thinking about for a long time, I mean all my friends and I have been talking about this and we honestly can't believe its actually happening."
With the JMC Ice Arena out for the season and its future in question, this is good news for more than just hockey players.
Aubrey Bidwell-Ray, of the Westminister Figure Skating Club says, "it would be a lot of fun and a big plus to the club for the little kids who can't travel that far so it would be a big plus for the club".
GREATT purchased the complex from Owner Glen Renaud. The project received $3 million from the state in a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program Grant and just this week, Erie County Council approved loans of up to $6.2 million.
Earlier this week, Scott Enterprises announced a $50,000 donation. Financing will be needed to move into phase two, but Catalde expects phase one to be ready by the end of summer.
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