Glens Falls Civic Center gets new name

Terms of 5-year naming deal not disclosed
The Glens Falls Civic Center in January.
The Glens Falls Civic Center in January.

GLENS FALLS — The Glens Falls Civic Center has been renamed the Cool Insuring Arena under a deal announced Tuesday.

The Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, the public-private entity that is the middle of a five-year agreement to acquire the city-owned facility, said the renaming is the next step in the ongoing effort to revitalize the facility and make it profitable.

“We want to keep that venue open and alive. It’s really for the benefit of the people that live here,” said Daniel Burke, president of the coalition.

Terms of the five-year naming deal were not disclosed, Burke said, at the request of the 160-year-old Queensbury insurance firm.

The Civic Center was built by Glens Falls in 1979 but became a money pit, costing the cash-strapped city much more to operate than it realized in revenue. The city put the arena, which can accommodate about 5,000 visitors, up for auction in 2014 with a minimum $1.5 million bid.

That didn’t work out as hoped; there were no bids. But the coalition inked a five-year lease-purchase agreement whereby it is paying the city a total of $650,000 in rent over five years, Burke said. The coalition owes the last two years’ payments, $50,000 each, then will be able to buy the building for $1.

The idea of selling the naming rights was floated more than a decade ago, but Cool Insuring was the entity that finally committed.

The name change is the coalition’s latest effort to stem the tide of red ink at the arena, home to the Adirondack Thunder hockey team and host to events ranging from concerts to circus performances.

Burke said that, with an annual $250,000 subsidy from Warren County, now in its third year, the facility has come close to turning a profit but still has not.

“At the end of the day, we just have to make some bucks to keep it alive,” he said.

Along with the county money, a key change was replacing the various management teams working under contract and instead doing the management internally.

“The revenue was being split up a few different ways,” Burke said. “We eliminated those.”

Also, the lighting was upgraded to LEDs, cutting electric costs by two-thirds while still increasing light levels.

Finally, the coalition has increased revenue-generating activity, Burke said, bringing in more vistors in the process: 25 percent more in 2016 than in 2015.

He said the arena will continue to need the county subsidy, though, and he thinks the county will continue to provide it.

“We’re always pleased by the support we’re getting,” Burke said.

An urgent physical problem — two separate facade collapses — were addressed with some re-engineering that was covered by insurance. There was no structural damage, Burke said, just a recurring problem with snow and ice loosening the brick sheathing.

Moving forward, the public can expect to see signage changes within a couple of months, Burke said. “Glens Falls Civic Center” has already been changed to “Cool Insuring Arena” on the facility’s website, but fabricating and installing signs will take a little longer.

An independent study of the facility and its 2015 operations — which Burke said was not a strong year — showed it had a $10.6 million economic impact on Warren, Saratoga and Washington counties; supported 131 jobs paying $3.6 million in the three counties; attracted 150,000 visitors who spent $8.2 million in the area; and generated $780,000 in sales, occupancy and property tax revenues.

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