Photo: Contributed Image / New Haven Engineering Department
NEW HAVEN — It was a day of celebrating “dreaming big” and a “new alliance” as the city and Albertus Magnus College announced a new town-gown partnership to bring college hockey to the city’s rebuilt public ice rink.
Monday will be more about the fine details of the new partnership included in a 15-page agreement submitted to the Board of Alders that covers issues, using language only a lawyer could love, from pledging an exterior Albertus Magnus sign visible from Interstate 91 (“subject to additional funding and obtaining all necessary permits and approvals”) to a requirement for commercial general liability insurance including “combined Bodily Injury and Property Damage Limit” between $5 million per occurrence and $10 million in aggregate.
On April 4, the city and Albertus celebrated the groundbreaking partnership of a city college starting a Division III hockey team based on a municipal rink. If the devil is in the details, those will be considered Monday by the alders.
Albertus is making a significant financial investment. The proposed agreement states that Albertus will pay the city $250,000 to construct a locker room exclusive to the team and an additional $50,000 for additional improvements, beyond the scope of the planned overhaul to the 50-year-old seasonal rink, the two sides agree upon. The city estimated ice time rentals from Albertus will generate between $25,000 and $35,000 per year. Albertus would be charged $195 per peak hour — the rate charged to NHPS — and $150 per off-peak hour — the rate charged to a New Haven resident.
The plan is for the team to start competing in the 2019-20 season.
Many provisions appear routine but still had to be reduced to writing. If the Ralph Walker Rink is going to be home ice for Albertus, it should look like it, so the city pledged to give preferential placement on the ice for Albertus branding, a possible logo on the scoreboard, magnetic logos for the Zamboni affixed during games, of course, and the possibility of exterior signage for tens of thousands of passing motorists to see each day. The city would agree to run the key concession stand. All gate revenue would go to Albertus. Any advertising revenue would go into a “discretionary fund” which will be controlled by a rink advisory board. There is a construction timeline.
The city was also mindful about how to balance being home ice for Albertus and remain a community skating rink that has regular open skates, hosts birthday parties and other special events. Due to the nature of NCAA Division III hockey scheduling with travel and logistics, Albertus would have “priority scheduling over other users” — unless a New Haven Public School starts a team, the agreement states.
In her request and summary to the alders, Rebecca Bombero, the city director of Parks, Recreation, and Trees, looked forward. She stated that by Albertus serving as an “anchor tenant” for the rink, it makes Walker a more “serious” location and that the college will help fill the ice time schedule and stabilize the finances of the rink for future operations.
The entire project is estimated to cost about $2.5 million and, with the new upgrades, the rink is expected to open up to a month earlier each fall. The rink should be opened by fall 2018.
Right now, for residents adults will skate for $4 and children for $3. Skate rentals remain $5.