John Lloyd introduced Keith Martin, Executive Director of Northwest Arena. Keith is a native of the area, who graduated from Falconer High School, JCC and Eastern Connecticut State University. He enjoyed thirty years in athletics, both as a student and as a coach at Eastern Connecticut and then at JCC. He was employed at JCC for 19 years, ultimately as Athletic Director. He has been at the NW Arena for the last year and a half, but the Arena has been a major part of his life from its beginning. His daughter has been figure skating in the skating program for 10 years.
20 years ago there was a vision for a focal attraction downtown, bringing people from inside and outside the community. The Arena has been a great success. Last week 31 youth hockey teams participated in a 4 day tournament. The ice arenas can be “flipped” in ½ hour to a venue hosting birthday parties, curling leagues, and then back to ice to welcome 300 local families and youth for a free skating day. There are also bumper cars and bubbles.
The Greater Jamestown AM Rotary hosted the first event at the Arena. There have been world youth hockey tournaments, concerts, comedy shows, weddings, and corporate outings and team building. The turnstile numbers average 250,000 a year. This has a significant economic impact. There are 3 hockey events over the course of a few weeks. These 3 events bring in $875,000 to the community.
And the community supports the Arena. In November last year Keith made the decision to launch bumper cars. He bought 12 for $72,000 on faith that he could raise the money. In two weeks each car had a sponsor! Over Christmas-900 young people rode the cars-one was 97 years young!
The new craze is backyard curling. Normally stones cost $800 each. Keith found someone who would make them using two dog dishes cemented together. There were 32 local teams in the first year and this year it’s a 40 team league with 2 tournaments-one in January and one in March. March is already sold out. The Director of Development and Competition of the World Curling Federation saw the Post-Journal article and posted it on their website which has over 30,000 followers.
And so, on to the new, exciting development—the 3 story addition. The 3rd floor will be National Comedy Center offices and the 2nd floor, a kids interactive fun zone brought to life by Cortina, the group responsible for the NCC. The 1st floor will be the Standup Comedy Hall of Fame. The first class induction will occur in May, with Netflix and Funny Business, Inc. as the partners. The Standup Hall will be free standing from NCC but people will be able to buy a ticket to both with an upcharge.
What is on this spring’s calendar? The AM Rotary is hosting the East Side YMCA on March 6. District 7090 Jamestown Youth Rotary weekend will also have a special day. Additionally, Wits and Giggles is March 28 and the Beer and Wine Festival called Grapes and Hops will be March 21. March 28 is the JRC Garden Fair, the Skating Club show is May 9 and August 7-8 the NCC comedy shows return. 9,000 people attended 4 shows last year.
Russ Diethrick remembers when Harold Griffith practiced curling in Allen Park before going to Canada to compete.
On a very special note, on Friday a person looked Keith up at the Arena and asked him the significance of the date. It was the anniversary of the hockey “Miracle on Ice” when the US hockey team beat the USSR. Two Jamestownians were there: Jim Riggs and Roger Edborg, who passed away last week. The person who Keith talked to was a friend of Mr. Edborg and had a copy of the video tape he had made at the game. He gave Randy Anderson one for the Sports Hall of Fame, and Keith one for the Northwest Arena. What a legacy!