December 1, 2022
Picente Officially Opens Oneida County’s Nexus Center
County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. officially welcomed the public to the county’s Nexus Center on Thursday with a grand opening celebration ceremony for the $64 million sports complex in downtown Utica.
“Today is a landmark day for Oneida County and the entire region,” Picente said. “When we first announced the Nexus Center in 2017, I knew it would be a perfect fit for the U-District — the vision I had for a sports and entertainment district for downtown Utica. Together, with the investments the county made in the Adirondack Bank Center, the neighboring Nexus would form a powerhouse duo to draw hundreds of thousands of annual visitors and millions of dollars for our local businesses. The road to get there wasn’t always easy, but Oneida County worked hard and made significant investments to make that vision a reality. Now, players and families are flocking to this magnificent facility and packing our hotels, restaurants and businesses.
“As Nexus quickly becomes the go-to destination for competitive youth sports tournaments nationwide, the economic benefit to this community and beyond will be immeasurable,” Picente added. “I thank the Oneida County Board of Legislators for its support, and our partners at the Upper Mohawk Valley Auditorium Authority, New York State and Mohawk Valley Garden for helping us to get here. This is only the beginning of a very bright future.”
The 170,000 square-foot tournament-based sporting facility — conveniently located off the New York State Thruway in downtown Utica — features three multipurpose 200-foot by 85-foot playing surfaces that can be utilized as ice sheets or turf. It is connected by a walkway to the neighboring Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, which brings the total up to four surfaces for sports tournaments.
Nexus will be primarily used for ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse and will draw competitive youth teams from across the U.S. and Canada. It is the home of the Utica University Women’s Ice Hockey Team and the Utica Comets junior teams. The 1,200-seat venue includes luxury boxes overlooking the ice surface, as well as more than 20 locker rooms, state-of-the-art training space, a fitness track, food and beverage services, commercial office space and classrooms for Utica University’s Sports Management Program.
“The Auditorium Authority is proud to unveil the Nexus Center – a world class facility that will enhance the quality of sports, entertainment and the regional economy for years to come,” said Carl Annese, Chairman of the Upper Mohawk Valley Auditorium Authority.
“The Legislature is proud to have played a pivotal role in bringing this transformative facility to fruition,” said Oneida County Board of Legislators Chairman Gerald J. Fiorini. “In just a short time, the Nexus Center has already proven it is going to be a significant destination venue for youth and amateur sports tournaments.”
“The Nexus Center has been many years in the making, and I couldn’t be more excited to see a facility such as this in our hometown,” said Mohawk Valley Garden CEO Robert Esche. “Nexus will not only be an asset for our local youth as they become community leaders through team sports, but will also exist as an economic driver in the sports tourism sector for our county.”
Picente first announced the plans for the Nexus Center on May 16, 2017 as part of his plan for the U-District. Along with UMVAA, the county has committed $32 million in bonding to fund Nexus, including an additional $15 million the county has contributed to the project which includes parking on the Whitesboro Street side of the facility. More parking will be available for Nexus and the Adirondack Bank Center in early 2024 when the county completes its $56 million parking garage next to the nearby MVHS Wynn Hospital.
The county also secured a $22 million grant from New York State and raised its hotel and occupancy tax to 5% to help fund the Nexus project. After a COVID-19-related work stoppage in June 2020, construction resumed in January 2022 and was completed in early November. The first game was played on November 9 and the inaugural tournament kicked off November 11.
Nexus is projected to host 24 hockey and lacrosse tournaments each year, welcoming more than 320,000 annual visitors to Oneida County and generating more than $26 million in direct visitor spending.