Monday, December 11, 2023

$1-million drive for Heritage Hall renovations; all but $150,000 already raised

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

A total redo of Heritage Hall in the Cool Insuring Arena is under way, and a capital campaign is imminent to fund the rest of the $1-million project.

“It’s a full renovation,” Cool Insuring Arena General Manager Jeff Mead told The Chronicle. “We gutted the whole room.” Work started in May.

Heritage Hall was “quite frankly kind of falling apart,” he said.

Mr. Mead said they’ve already raised around $850,000 of the $1-million.

“Our initial budget was about $750[-thousand]. And we were going to kick in $50[-thousand] of our own operating dollars.

“Then we started thinking about it. We’ll have a beautiful new room here, but the hallway and the bathrooms right outside, they still need a lot of attention.”

So they adjusted to $1-million.

Mr. Mead said, “The City of Glens Falls gave us $200,000 out of their ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] money for this space, and Warren County gave us $250,000 out of their ARPA money, and $250,000 out of their occ[upancy] tax.”

He said they’ve already raised about $75,000 more from Adirondack Civic Center Coalition board members and the Glens Falls Foundation.

Mr. Mead said they’ll soon be seeking donations from “our corporate partners, our season ticket holders or just community members that have always supported the arena and the team.”

As for the renovation, Mr. Mead said they’ve installed a brand new drop ceiling and HVAC. They’re putting in a full bar, with coolers and three point-of-sale systems — much larger than the limited bar that was there before. It still has a full kitchen in back.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mead said they’ve gotten “a lot done in the arena bowl. The video board, new lights, locker rooms, the new suites last year were a pretty big hit.”

But “this was the one space we haven’t tackled at all since 2015.”

Beyond water damage, he mentioned its old popcorn ceiling, “yellow stained from back when you could smoke in this room.” He believes the last renovations were more than 20 years ago.

The new Heritage Hall will be smaller. “We decided to take about 600 square feet out of the room to make a closet,” Mr. Mead explained, making it around 6,500 square feet.

The closet will hold “all the chairs and tables that are in the hallway” currently, behind curtains that date back decades.

“It can kind of open up the hallway, make it a nice welcome entrance to the new space,” Mr. Mead said.

The aim is to make Heritage Hall more desirable for events.

“It’s a pretty busy space during Adirondack Thunder Hockey games. But the goal is bringing more business events, community events, weddings, it’ll be a very flexible space,” Mr. Mead said. “It was difficult to market the space when the room was so outdated and kind of run down.”

“We’re not here to compete with what the Queensbury Hotel is doing and these other high end wedding venues,” he added. “But we just have a niche market, where somebody wants to have a wedding, they want to spend maybe $50-$75 a plate instead of $150 to $500 a plate.”

Mr. Mead raises the possibility of doing larger events combining forces with the Park Theater or The Queensbury Hotel.

“It’s an extra 6,500 square feet in Glens Falls,” he said. “Maybe that allows the Q to bring in larger events that they can’t currently host. Obviously the arena floor is 17,000 square feet as well.”

Mr. Mead expects the room ready for use September 10 — with the HVAC fully operational by the end of September.

Mr. Mead said they’ll soon be seeking donations from “our corporate partners, our season ticket holders or just community members that have always supported the arena and the team.”

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