CITY OF JOHNSTOWN — On Friday, for the first time publicly, town of Johnstown resident Tim Rizzo unveiled his concept for building a nonprofit winter sports complex in Fulton County that would include three ice rinks for ice hockey, skating and curling, as well as a daycare center, fitness center, and an emergency services building.
Now all he needs is approximately $35 million and a place to build it.
“It’s going to be an all-use multipurpose facility, for kids and families to use year-round,” Rizzo told the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth’s board of directors during its meeting Friday.
Rizzo presented the CRG board with a 40-page prospectus, along with a slide show, detailing the nonprofit corporation he has created called Upstate Ice Plex Inc., which uses as its logo the letters “UIP” in orange inside a black circle. Rizzo said he has gone through all of the regulatory steps necessary to create the nonprofit, an essential step for applying for both state and federal grant money.
Rizzo explained to the CRG that he has bipartisan support in Congress from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, and U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-NY, for his push for federal funding to help kickstart the idea.
Gillibrand did include a request for $6 million in federal funding for Rizzo’s Upstate Ice Plex plan among the three Fulton County economic development projects, totaling $16.5 million, she’s supporting for inclusion to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration as part of the federal government’s 2023 budget, which hasn’t passed yet.
Rizzo has also applied for a $2 million grant through New York state’s Consolidated Funding Application Process, as well as a $50,000 matching state grant, which he said would be used to create a Proforma Concept Report, a document that attempts to create a sound hypothetical financial statement that makes reasonable assumptions about the future revenues and values associated with a potential business venture that doesn’t exist yet.
“That would help us drive our location,” Rizzo said.
In the documents 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 going to donate 50 acres of land to an entity called Wilderness Inc. that had gone through some of the regulatory steps to try to build a similar idea. Ultimately, it did not happen.
While Rizzo said Cleland’s land donation is no longer available for the idea, the concept of developing a regional winter sports hub is still a good one if he can obtain the funding to do so.
Joseph Semione, Chairman of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, attended Rizzo’s presentation. Although Semione said Rizzo’s idea sounds interesting, he cautioned that in his experience evaluating projects, he’s seen that a facility of the size that Rizzo is proposing could cost as much as $3 million a year to maintain.
Rizzo said he needs the Proforma Concept Report to help show that Upstate Ice Plex could be capable of generating the revenues necessary to sustain itself. He said his nonprofit needs approximately $25,000 for the matching $50,000 grant to get the report written. He said he’s hopeful he can raise the money through his nonprofit’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 Friday. He explained his hopes for how publicizing the concept will help make it happen.
“Hopefully everyone who wants to get involved with this will take a look at it and come back with ideas,” Capobianco said. “Right now, it’s our concept, and we’re looking for Montgomery County, Fulton County, all of (the different local economic development entities) to say ‘here’s what we think’, and as a board, we’ll collectively determine what makes the most sense. Where is the best infrastructure? Where can we make this easy, accessible traffic wise, and for people to get to?”