Monroe College has signed a three year deal with CB Richard Ellis/Entertainment Properties Trust to lease the former ice hockey arena at New Roc City for use as a year-round multi-sport facility for the college tentatively named the Monroe Athletic Complex or "MAC". Monroe has been looking for an indoor sports facility for the past severals as part of planned move up to NCAA Division II basketball for its men's and women's basketball program.
Monroe College officials who spoke with Talk of the Sound and provided a tour of the facility were clearly excited.
"We have been looking for a permanent field house for about 20 years", said Marc Jerome, Executive Vice President of Monroe College "we are happy to have obtained one in the center of our New Rochelle campus area, our players are so happy to have their own home court."
"It will be a comprehensive athletic facility for us," said Vice President of Administration David E. Dimond. "We'll have basketball, both men's and women's, volleyball, indoor track, baseball and softball practice...everything is going to be concentrated and centralized here."
Monroe hopes to sublet the facility to community groups, youth sports programs, basketball leagues. There are party rooms available that overlook the court. Interested groups and leagues can contact Athletic Director Burt Shillingford at (914)740-6430.
Monroe plans to meet with the City of New Rochelle Parks & Recreation Department and the City School District of New Rochelle in the near future and other organizations in the New Rochelle and Westchester County area about use of the facility.
"Our hope is to bring some life into this building" said Dimond. "We also want to market other businesses within New Roc and the restaurants and shops in the downtown area."
Monroe has moved quickly. The deal with CBRE/EPT was signed last Thursday. The basketball court was shipped from the midwest and assembled over a two day period and the first game played on Monday when the Lady Mustangs defeated Orange Community College 85-22.
The seating capacity is about 400 to 500 but Monroe wants to put more seating in the facility, probably some court side bleachers. The seating requirements for NCAA Division 2 teams is between 1,000 and 1,500 seats.
The basketball floor, purchased from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, was previously used at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. U.S. Cellular Arena, previously the MECCA, was home to the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA from 1968-1988, hosting the 1977 NBA All-Star Game, and the Marquette University's men's basketball team. The floor is still striped for the UWM Wildcats and U.S. Cellular Arena but will sanded down and re-striped in Monroe's blue and gold colors in the spring.
The deal, signed last Thursday, ends any hope that the City of New Rochelle will see any sales tax from Kohl's, Target or any other retailer in New Roc any time soon. The deal also puts an end to discussions about Monroe becoming an anchor tenant for a rehabilitated New Rochelle Armory facility. As Monroe College does not have a hockey program, the school does not envision ice in the facility or have any plans for hockey.
Marc Jerome talked with Talk of the Sound about the negotiations that led to the New Roc deal. Jerome said Monroe had been looking at the New Rochelle Armory, New Roc City and a few other locations in New Rochelle and Westchester. When EPT took control of New Roc City, Jerome discussed leasing space for the basketball program but was told EPT was still hoping to get retail tenants into New Roc City as had been touted by Louis Capelli for years. Jerome said that EPT told him that after evaluating the facility, the company saw three impediments. First, there would be a tremendous amount of capital required to add new floors. Second, there would be a significant impact on Stop & Stop. Jerome then digressed into a new topic and never stated the third impediment.
Jerome hopes to have a major impact on downtown by driving business to shops and restaurants in the BID area. Marc Jerome serves at the Chairman of the BID Board.
Over the coming days, the facility will be used for workouts and practices. On January 26, the MAC will host an alumni game. January 27, a doubleheader of men's and women's games, will serve as the official grand opening of the new facility. To learn more, click the links to the men's basketball schedule and women's basketball schedule.
Photo credit Jen Parent (except tip off photo from Monroe)