January 31, 2016
Biggest in CT: Expanded Northford Ice Pavilion Celebrates
Published January 31, 2016 9:47 a.m.
With a snip of a giant, golden-handled scissor, the red ribbon fell and new ice went into play at the expanded Northford Ice Pavilion. The private venue's $4.5 million addition includes a third pro-sized rink, making it the state's largest ice skating facility under one roof.
The public's invited to join the celebration at a Grand Opening event Saturday, Feb. 6, noon to 3 p.m., with free public skating during those hours.
Northford Ice Pavilion LLC partners Marty Roos, John Lashar, Al Secondino and Michael Belfonti started the business in 1998, opening a two-rink, 2,000 seat ice skating facility at 24 Fire-Lite Place. The partners picked Northford because of its close proximity to many towns that didn't have their own ice skating rinks, said Roos.
Through the years, the pavilion has also proven to be fertile ground for athletes who've gone on to make their mark as collegiate varsity hockey players (over 60, to date) and in the pros.
"Since 1998 we've had 19 pro hockey players," said Belfonti, including Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty.
"Young women also play ice hockey and the Polar Bears got their start right here in the Northford Ice Pavilion," Belfonti added. "And now, there are over 150 female hockey players playing out of this facility. Several players out of here have gone on to win hockey awards of distinction; and some have even gone on to win gold and silver medals at the Olympics."
The success of the venue and its place as home ice for several teams and leagues (including North Branford and Branford High School boys hockey teams) grew exponentially through the years. Then, the economy caught up, said Lashar.
"The Connecticut economy has improved over the last several years and the popularity of ice hockey has increased, and we experienced a stronger demand for ice time. We recognized that a third rink was necessary," said Lashar.
The $4.5 million expansion project was financed with a loan United Bank and the partners are also working on a possible loan from the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development with its legal counsel, Susan Bysiewicz of Pastore & Dailey, LLC (Bysiewicz is also former Connecticut Secretary of State). Northford Ice Pavilion LLC is proud to note the new third rink and facility improvements were built by partner Secondino's company, A. Secondino and Son of Branford.
"We're very excited about the expansion of the facility and are looking forward to servicing the hockey and figure skating communities for many years to come," said Secondino.
Northford Ice Pavilion is now the largest indoor ice skating facility under one roof in Connecticut. The venue's overseen by General Manager Bill Maniscalco, thanked by Belfonti for his "tireless work" to help bring in the new expansion.
Fitted into the expanded pavilion's 100,000 total square feet are three NHL regulation-sized rinks, 2,000 seats for spectators, a full pro shop, and 6,800 square foot modern training facility. The pro shop is leased and managed by Hockeygear.com. The year-round position player training center is leased by MB Sports Training and Connecticut Crease.
Last year, over 700,000 patrons visited the pavilion, and, "...we estimate with the new rink we'll have over one million," said Belfonti. "So a million people will come in and out of these doors in 2016. I think that's amazing." On Jan. 29, the partners were joined by state and local leaders for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Special guests were Connecticut Economic & Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith, State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. (D, District 12), State Representative Vincent Candelora (R, District 86), Bysiewicz, Town Manager Mike Paulhus, Town Planner Carey Duques and several members of the North Branford Town Council. Smith was given the honor of cutting the ribbon.
Smith said she grew up playing ice hockey outdoors as a girl in Chicago and also understands the plight of hockey families hoping for expanded hours for ice time.
"So it's wonderful that we have this capacity; and right here in Northford," said Smith. "We want to see this kind of growth around the state. It's a great asset; and the businesses that come with it (are) all really great for the state and for all of us citizens."
Kennedy said he was excited to see the expansion come about.
"I know how important it is to have a facility like this in our region. Hat's off for developing this center. It's growing, it's expanding, it's becoming an economic engine of Northford," said Kennedy, adding, "I think all of us in the region are proud that there's a facility like this."
Kennedy and Candelora introduced an official citation of congratulations, adopted and signed by the General Assembly, which they presented to Northford Ice Pavilion LLC on Jan. 29.
"I want to congratulate you all on this expansion," said Candelora. "I remember in 1998, we heard lot of naysayers that were skeptical and said that ice won't work in this region. We know it's such a difficult business to be in; but such a great need for our children for their development. So it's just wonderful to see this success story, and its expansion."
Belfonti Companies, LLC Real Estate Development and Investment, with a central office located in Hamden, Connecticut, actively and aggressively pursues opportunities throughout the United States and internationally.