Updated 11/01/2012 05:35 PM
RazorSharks Buy Dome Arena
A deal has been signed to sell the Monroe County Fairgrounds, including the Dome Arena and other buildings on the property. It's a move that would see Rochester's semi-pro basketball team make a move to Henrietta.
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It's been around for nearly forty years, but the past couple at the Dome Arena have been a struggle.
"For several years now, they've been in the red now for whatever reason,” said Mike Yudelson, Henrietta Town Supervisor.
That's why earlier this year the Monroe County Fair and Expo Center went up for sale.
"We've struggled financially the last five, six years over there. I don't think it's any secret of that,” said Bob Colby.
Bob Colby, a fair board member, had led the effort to sell.
"Because we didn't want to operate the Dome. It's a break-even proposition for us and we want to get back to emphasizing our main goal of operating a fair."
The Monroe County Fair has operated since the 1830s. The Dome Arena has hosted everything from roller hockey to garden shows to psychic festivals, to most recently, people in need of shelter from Hurricane Sandy.
The Fair board recently found a buyer out of four offers, choosing the group that owns the Rochester Razorsharks basketball team, which would move the team from downtown Rochester, to Henrietta.
"I like the arena, I like downtown Rochester, but sound business principles should apply at some point, finally,” said Dr. Sev Hyrwnal, team owner.
Home for the Rochester Razorsharks has been the Blue Cross Arena since the team's inception in 2005. During the time, the club has won four league championships, and has been a consistent draw.
"They've had great nights, it always depends on the night of the week,” said Jeff Calkins, general manager at the Blue Cross.
But at the arena, the Razorsharks don't have anything close to a sweetheart deal. The club gets just four percent of concessions. No revenue from parking. Rent is high.
"Financially, it would make more prudence from a business standpoint. We have a chance to turn a profit, versus we didn't really have a chance at the BCA,” said Hyrwnal.
"I think from their long-term success and viability in the market, it's a move they almost have to make,” said Calkins.
The location of the Fairgrounds makes it one of Henrietta's prime properties.
"It's an important part of town,” said Yudelson.
Yudelson says the Razorsharks could be a good fit, in Henrietta.
"Depending on what they did to upgrade the facility, and it is in need of an upgrade, I think it could be the right type of facility for the size crowd they generally draw."
Hrywnak says plans for the Dome Arena include 5,000 to 7,000 seats for basketball, plus other indoor sports, and possibly an ice rink.
Colby says some of those who made offers weren't interested in the Dome Arena, just the land.
"The Association has a lot of positive history with the facility. To see it not be operated would have emotionally been hard on some of our volunteers,” Colby said.
The Razorsharks have 90 days to complete the deal. Some of that hinges on the extent of repairs that need to be made to the Dome Arena.
"They've been a great tenant. They've been successful,” said Calkins.
Blue Cross Arena may be losing a tenant, but Calkins understands the economics of the team's decision.
"If it's part of their overall business plan to survive in this marketplace, then I wish them well."