A Cool Addition: Construction On $4.5 Million Ice Arena Project Finishes
Construction is complete at Northwest Arena.
The $4.5 million expansion project that began in 2019 enhances Northwest Arena’s facilities and ushers in the next era of programming at the organization, which will celebrate its 20th year in 2022.
“We are so very thankful for our main funding organizations, the Gebbie Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation,” said David Leathers, Northwest Arena Board co-president. “We are fortunate to have been able to design and construct this impressive building addition that will provide additional opportunities for arena programming, community service, support and outreach, and expanded collaboration with our neighbors from the National Comedy Center. Both the arena staff and board members are absolutely excited about the months and years ahead, as we begin to utilize this new addition and space.”
The expansion included relocation and reconfiguration of staff office space, improvements to the Erie News Now Cafe, the addition of a snack bar immediately outside the entrance to Plyler Entry Systems B Rink, a custom storage solution for the ice bumper car fleet, major construction to the Jamestown Mattress Arena Club, the addition of a professional catering prep kitchen and a three-story, 15,000-square-foot addition. The contractor was E.E. Austin & Son of Erie, Pa., which also has a location in Falconer. The architect was Clark Patterson Lee of Jamestown.
The Jamestown Mattress Arena Club saw the removal of a partitioned hallway bringing natural light into the venue, which now can accommodate banquets and weddings of up to 232 individuals. Modern finishes were added including, a new steel and cable railing, a permanent bar, upgraded lighting, a professional sound system including assisted listening devices, window shades, carpeting and garbage receptacles.
Fresh, neutral color throughout the unique two-tier floor plan gives the space a clean, urban, and slightly industrial ambiance suitable for all events. A dance floor, tables and chairs are included with all rentals.
Six windows overlooking Shults Auto Group A Rink were enhanced with sliding panes of glass; during select events, the Jamestown Mattress Arena Club can become a true extension of the fun happening on the ice or dry (concrete) pad. Privacy shades can be lowered to create complete separation between the rink and the event space and partitions can be added to the lower tier to create three VIP lounge spaces.
The catering prep kitchen features warming cabinets, refrigeration and other appliances to make catered events operate efficiently. Coolers and a kegerator behind the bar give renters lots of options when creating custom bar packages. The Northwest Arena has a liquor license and provides all event bartending services.
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“This beautiful new venue space complete with a brand-new catering kitchen is the piece of the puzzle that has been missing in our downtown for years,” said Diana Scott, owner of Studio D Catering and Food Truck. “The kitchen is well planned and has everything needed to cater any event, large or small.”
The third floor of the addition contains the atrium boardroom and rooftop patio. This space can accommodate private receptions and gatherings of all occasions including board meetings and business events with up to 50 people seated comfortably. Floor-to-ceiling windows by D&S Glass along the entire south-eastern facing walls give occupants a panoramic glimpse at Jamestown’s splendor.
Step onto the rooftop patio for an urban escape with a never-before-seen perspective of downtown. During warmer months seating can be added outside, creating an experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Colecraft Commercial Furnishings of Jamestown is manufacturing custom modular furniture for the atrium boardroom and rooftop patio.
“There has been incredible interest in both the Jamestown Mattress Arena Club and the atrium boardroom and rooftop patio,” said Megan Arnone, director of marketing, sales and communications at Northwest Arena. “We have booked wedding receptions, ceremonies, showers, birthday parties, fundraising events, business meetings and more into 2022. Anyone interested in hosting an event at the Northwest Arena is welcome to schedule a complimentary tour.”
The third floor also contains office space that will be leased by the National Comedy Center. There are 10 private offices plus co-working and cubicle space. The offices will bring much of the National Comedy Center administrative team under one roof for the first time.
The National Comedy Center also has a presence on the ground floor of the expansion, future home to The Hall, a dedicated space to honor and pay tribute to the legends of stand-up comedy. The Hall will be an add-on experience to the National Comedy Center’s admission ticket. The shell of this space is complete; the National Comedy Center will oversee the interior development of the attraction.
The second floor of the expansion will be home to TheZone, an indoor sports-themed play space for toddlers through pre-teens. Physically engaging exhibits by Jack Rouse Associates will connect the act of play to STEAM concepts that illustrate the science of motion and sports. Kids are invited to kick, climb, throw balls, jump and explore every aspect of play their imaginations can conjure from the moment they walk through the doors. Thoughtful digital programming by Cortina Productions encourages guests to celebrate milestones, track progress, play longer and with other visitors.
TheZone meets a pressing need for high-quality, accessible, affordable, indoor, year-round play space for children; 84% of Western New York children are not receiving the CDC’s minimum recommendation of one hour of daily active play. TheZone lowers barriers to play through a fully Americans with Disabilities Act compliant design, low admission cost and sponsored play events so that all families can play.
TheZone will be a memorable childhood experience that will promote healthier futures for our children, fuel Jamestown’s economic momentum, enhance Chautauqua County’s appeal to visitors, and be a point of community pride. A thorough market analysis predicts an estimated 45,000 annual visitors in addition to the Northwest Arena’s existing 250,000 annual visitors and indicates the project is a sound investment both in utilization and financially.
Keith Martin, executive director at Northwest Arena said, “TheZone is a much needed and much wanted amenity in our community. Our team looks forward to offering this state of the art, completely unique, and imaginative destination to the children of Chautauqua County and beyond. We are committed to offering an affordable entry price so that families may play at TheZone on a regular basis, and we are able to do that due to TheZone being in addition to the Northwest Arena’s existing programming versus a standalone facility.”
The total cost to furnish TheZone’s exhibits is $4 million. The shell of the attraction and the exhibit design have been completed and funded as part of the original $4.5 million expansion. Already, funders save signaled and given their support. Fundraising efforts will begin in earnest at the end of June 2021 with a Capital Campaign. TheZone is anticipated to open in June 2022.