Three years in the making: new ice rinks, refinished basketball courts, locker rooms, and other upgrades are coming to Family First.
Millions of dollars are already raised, but there's still a little more needed to make this become a reality.
What started as wanting to build a new ice rink for the Erie area made President Bob Catalde, of the Greater Regional Erie Athletic Team Training, or GREATT, quickly realize a greater need. Catalde says it "became equally apparent that there's more need than just for ice. We need indoor training for our folks and our kids. We need basketball facilities, baseball facilities, soccer lacrosse, all of that. This is the perfect location."
Catalde hopes to close on the purchase of Family First by late fall/early winter and begin phase one of the renovations, but that's depending on the amount of money they can raise in the next few months. They need "$9.1 million. Of that $9.1 million, we have $8.4 million in different types of financing, so we're looking for community involvement for the balance."
The turf will soon be replaced with ice as one of the two new NHL-sized hockey rinks. Phase one also including resurfacing the four basketball courts, making improvements to the dome and also making improvements to outdoor fields. The complex will be run by Rink Management Services Corporation.
President Tom Hillgrove of Rink Management Services, says, "We're very proud of our community involvement, so I think we're going to get a lot of kids into sports. I also think it will help the whole community because as we gain success in tournaments, we'll fill hotel beds."
So, the impact stretches far beyond children into millions of dollars for the local economy.
Ron Sertz of the Erie Sports Commission says, "Over the past couple of years, the number of events we've brought to Erie continually accelerating. This year, we're doing almost 60 events, about $15 million is economic impact. Have a rejuvenated and refurbished Family First Sports Park will improve those opportunities to bring people to Erie as a host city for their events."
Catalde says he wants "to be able to provide this to the community and for the children of the community and we're talking about every child in our community is going to be able to come up here and utilize this facility, that's fantastic."
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