Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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March 5, 2010

CITY OF LOCKPORT: Lockport Ice Arena is not on ice, backers say

The search for a “lead” donor is still on by supporters of Lockport Ice Arena & Sports Center.

That’s why people haven’t heard any new information about the planned arena for the past nine months or so. No news is neither good nor bad, LIASC board chairman John Ottaviano said this week.

“It’s not dead in the water. People have to be patient,” he said. “We’re still working on securing primary financing.”

Ottaviano and arena Executive Director Sam Iraci addressed a recent published opinion by US&J; sports editor John D’Onofrio calling LIASC a “phantom indoor ice rink (that) will probably never be built.”

A private committee put its plans to develop a professionally operated, not-for-profit arena out to the public in early 2007. The committee got a $186,000 grant from the Grigg Lewis Foundation to hire design, finance and communication consultants who shaped plans that could be shopped around to private and public investors.

Last June, the foundation loaned the committee $350,000 so it could purchase the old Jubilee market building on Chestnut Street; and Iraci, who helped develop First Arena in Elmira, came on board as the project director.

Since then, outwardly at least, the project appears to have gone nowhere. In some quarters, doubt filled the news void.

That’s not unexpected, according to Iraci. From the time First Arena was announced as a concept, five years passed before its doors opened. Skepticism it would ever open was natural, he said; organizers had to resist the impulse to say something, anything, publicly to reassure supporters the project was not “dead.”

“Sometimes, when real estate deals are put together in full view of the public and the media, they don’t happen. (Silence) doesn’t mean inactivity,” Iraci said. “It’s important not to raise false expectations ... by spelling out timelines and goals. There’s a lot going on that people don’t necessarily see. That doesn’t mean a lot of groundwork isn’t being laid right now.”

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