SCHENECTADY — An outdoor ice rink is coming to Mohawk Harbor in December, and tourism officials hope it will spark new economic activity during the typically dreary winter season
The Schenectady River Rink is a collaboration between Discover Schenectady and Flight Entertainment Group, a Philadelphia-based entertainment company that builds seasonal ice rinks in cities across the northeast, including several in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The Galesi Group, Metroplex Development Authority, Beekman 1802 and Rivers Casino & Resort have also partnered to bring the rink to the city.
Todd Garofano, executive director of Discover Schenectady, a nonprofit that works to promote tourism activity throughout Schenectady County, said the company’s owners are familiar with the city and reached out after seeing the economic activity in Mohawk Harbor in recent years.
“At the same time, we were really looking to expand our outdoor opportunities going into the winter,” he said. “The tourism sector has rebounded largely based on great outdoor opportunities and assets, so we wanted to try to develop something where folks can be outside and enjoy winter activities, but still be close to warmer indoor activities as well.”
He’s hoping the ice rink will become a yearly tradition but noted this year is being viewed as sort of a pilot program.
A 60- by 100-foot ice rink will begin being constructed adjacent to the harbor’s amphitheater late next month and will open in early December. The rink is expected to remain operational through February.
Garofano declined to name the price to bring the seasonal rink to Schenectady but said the costs will be offset by sponsorship opportunities and ticket sales.
The group is marketing the event to those that live within a three-hour radius of the city in hopes of attracting overnight visitors. Sponsorship packages with local hotels are also in the works, according to Discover Schenectady executive.
Around 20 local jobs are expected to be created as a result of the rink, including security guards, managers and associates to help with rentals. Flight Entertainment has acquired the rink for installation and will be tasked with overseeing all aspects of its operation, including ticket sales and on-site entertainment, Garofano said.
“There is some initial investment in terms of infrastructure costs, bringing electrical up to the site, but hopefully that money will be recouped as well,” he said. “We look at this as a long-term project, so spreading those costs over time as well.”
Druthers Brewing Co., Shaker & Vine and Rivers Casino & Resort will provide food and beverage options under a heated hospitality tent that will be assembled near the rink. Beekman 1802, which operates its corporate headquarters at Mohawk Harbor, will offer a pop-up shop during the holiday season.
There are also events being planned for Christmas week, New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Week.
Season passes are currently on sale for $100 plus service fees. A family four-pack can be purchased for a limited time at $40 plus fees.
Individual tickets will be made available once the rink gets closer to opening, Garofano said.
“We’re really excited to see this launch,” he said.
Season passes for the Schenectady River Rink can be purchased by visiting: flightonice.com.