Union College's Hockey Squads Score a Cool $50 Million Home at Mohawk Harbor Arena!

Union College’s Hockey Squads Score a Cool $50 Million Home at Mohawk Harbor Arena!

Construction is on the horizon for a groundbreaking $50 million arena at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, set to become the new home for Union College’s men’s and women’s Division I ice hockey teams.

The finalized deal between the college and West Yard Properties, LLC marks a significant upgrade for Union’s hockey facilities, as the current on-campus Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center approaches its 50th year.

The decision to explore options beyond renovating the aging on-campus facility led to productive discussions about a public-private partnership with Mohawk Harbor.

Athletic Director Jim McLaughlin emphasizes the benefits of the new 97,000-square-foot arena, including increased locker room space, expanded strength and conditioning areas, athletic training room space, and the addition of an indoor turf space.

Financial support for the project comes from various sources, with Union College committing $20 million over 25 years. The Schenectady County Legislature and city council approved $5 million and $2.5 million, respectively, from American Rescue Plan Act funds. State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara secured $10 million in state budget funding, supplemented by an additional $1 million from his office for construction.

Santabarbara envisions the arena as a hub for sports tournaments, conferences, and trade shows, fostering economic growth and job creation in the region. He sees Schenectady as a unique destination, with the arena adding to the city’s diverse attractions, including Proctors, Rivers Casino, and Mohawk Harbor.

Union College's Hockey Squads Score a Cool $50 Million Home at Mohawk Harbor Arena!

The multi-purpose nature of the arena extends beyond hockey, with plans to host community events like Schenectady County SummerNight and SUNY Schenectady’s graduation ceremony in case of inclement weather. However, concerns about potential traffic issues have been voiced by residents, prompting discussions on proactive measures to address the impact on the community.

Former Stockade Association President Suzanne Unger expresses hope that, beyond games and practices, the arena will be open, free of charge, for the community. City Council President Marion Porterfield echoes community concerns, emphasizing the importance of sliding fees in the Community Benefits agreement to strike a balance between development and the well-being of residents.

Looking ahead, construction is slated to begin in the spring, with completion expected in time for the 2025-26 hockey season. The city anticipates continued development, aiming for a positive impact on residents through increased returns on investment and reduced tax burdens.

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Union College’s move to Mohawk Harbor represents not only a significant upgrade for its hockey program but also a promising development for the Schenectady community, positioning the city as a dynamic destination for sports and events.

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