Big changes could be coming to the Onondaga County War Memorial if the county legislature gives its approval. County officials are keeping veterans in the loop as the county looks to sell the naming rights to the War Memorial arena.
The arena is where the Syracuse Crunch hockey team plays and Deputy County Executive Bill Fisher said selling the naming rights could bring in revenue for renovations to areas like the bathrooms which Fisher called a disgrace.
“That can add up to a significant amount of money that is needed for the scoreboard or the improvements to the bathrooms, or the improvements to the concession areas or the improvements to the lighting within the corridor," Fisher said. "The less you have to burden the taxpayers with the cost of capital improvements, the easier it is to justify that. If you're going to have to fix these things and if the uses that you have don't make money hand over fist, which they don't, then you have to look to other methods of financing.”
Fisher is pitching the idea of spending up to $2 million on a new LED scoreboard and marquees for the outside of the War Memorial, OnCenter Convention Center and Civic Center theaters to the county legislature. The items will be discussed at a committee meeting next week. Fisher said the county is also seeking financial assistance from state legislators. And he said it is important to have veterans’ approval of a name change to the arena.
“If the veterans are on board then corporations would be potentially interested," Fisher said. "If the veterans are opposed to it, corporations are not going to want to touch it. If we have discussions with the veterans, which we have, and their mind is open to the possibility of naming rights to the arena; if it doesn't change the naming rights to the War Memorial, which it won't, then there is an opportunity to bring in corporate dollars instead of taxpayer dollars."
Fisher said a lot would need to happen quickly to get a new scoreboard in by the Crunch’s season opener on October 7. Down the road, upgrades to seating, the creation of suites and a VIP club experience are also possible as the Crunch negotiate extending its seven year contract with Onondaga County.