Some good news from the "Pork Department" today: SUNYIT sportsplex gets $20M from state. While this may not be quite in the same league as Binghamton, it is a welcome change, nonetheless.
Now the question becomes how to make the most of it. According to the Mayor of Rome "Here we have an opportunity for Whitestown, Rome, New Hartford, for the whole community, to utilize this multifaceted complex at SUNYIT right down the road." It is a worthy suggestion constructing a facility that all these communities could use, and certainly with our system of roads and the access to SUNYIT, use by those three communities is feasible.
But Mayor Julian of Utica also has a suggestion: Put it in Downtown Utica next to the Aud.
First of all, next to the Aud is a more convenient location than SUNYIT because the Aud is just off I-790 and is near the convergence of several major bus routes. While it might be 1-2 miles farther from Rome, it is closer to New Hartford and parts of Whitestown. Space for parking will be available now that Washington Courts is being cleared away.
The added benefit is the chance for Synergy with the Aud and nearby downtown. Noting that hotels and restaurants would be within walking distance, Julian said, "a $20 million facility on its own is certainly going to be a nice facility. A $20 million facility attached to and part of the Aud would take it to another level."
I think it would be even more . . .
A location adjacent to the Aud would also be within walking distance of the Brewery District (with its developing shops, galleries and pubs), Pratt at MWPAI (with student housing nearby), and the Players Theater (under construction). Add the nearby bus routes that would make the facility accessible to students from All the region's colleges, and you will have created a "critical mass" of activities within a small enough area to turn Utica into a bona fide College Town. Physically locating the SUNYIT facility in the midst of a thriving community would make SUNYIT that much more marketable. Being adjacent to the Aud might also offer an opportunity for both facilities to economize with some shared services.
The idea of locating a college facility off-campus in the heart of downtown to revitalize the downtown is exactly what SUNY is doing in Binghamton. Why not here?
A sportsplex at SUNYIT will only be a sportsplex at SUNYIT. A sportsplex Downtown would satisfy the same needs but also spawn all sorts of ancillary activities that would not be possible on a college campus. Utica's stature as the region's entertainment, college and cultural center would be taken up a notch, making the whole region more competitive with other regions in the state.
Think about it. . . . Mayor Julian is on to something.
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