Former NFL coach and others give update on proposed T.I. Event Center

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:43 PM EST
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TOWN OF WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A state-of-the-art space for sports, entertainment, and special events took a step closer to construction Thursday as local officials learned more about the proposed Thousand Island Event Center.

For families across the north country, many spend their weekends driving hours to larger sports complexes so their kids can compete.

Town of Watertown Supervisor Joel Bartlett hopes the event center, which would be built off Route 3 in the town of Watertown, will help with that.

“We’re getting a great response back to it. I would say it’s 95% percent positive, and once people actually know what the project is, where it’s going to be built, who’s going to pay for it,” he said.

Developers of the proposed complex were in town Thursday to offer a progress report on the project.

Former NFL Head Coach Mike Sherman owns the company behind the project. He says the north country community is one reason his group set its sights on the area.

“Everybody seems to want to help. That really jumped out at me. Very strong community-orientated group of people. We’re really excited about being up here, and again, the people are what drew us here,” he said.

The more than 500,000-square-foot facility will include turf fields, ice rinks, and a venue for concerts. But after listening to the community, there’s one part of the project that was put on the shelf.

“There was originally an aquatics portion of this project included in this overall package. They’ve taken that out in deference to the Y,” said Bartlett.

Bartlett is referring to the $30 million downtown Watertown YMCA’s new community and aquatics center, which is under construction.

“Once they realized something was happening in downtown with the YMCA they pulled away from that. So, clearly, they are going to listen to the local community,” said Jefferson County Administrator Robert Hagemann.

Bartlett also stresses that the local community won’t be paying for the project.

“There’s no line item in any municipality’s budget throughout the north country or in the region that is going to be impacted by a request for funds to help build this,” he said.

The group believes the arena will create 49 new jobs and generate close to $150 million in community spending from people coming to town to eat, gas up and stay in hotels. Construction could start this summer, and be finished by next fall.