Now a power player in region, Nexus Center sees bigger, better sports events, expos ahead
UTICA — After its opening in November 2022, the Nexus Center is looking to go bigger and better in 2023, its first full year of operation.
The Nexus Center is a sports and recreation complex, with three multi-use surfaces that can hold ice or turf, for soccer, hockey or lacrosse. It also features a fitness track, training space, over 25 locker rooms, college classrooms, stores, a Utica Club lounge, and a Utica Coffee Cafe.
Nexus opened for gameplay in November, with a few small details unfinished. In December, a grand opening was held to celebrate the official opening of the complex.
Rob Esche, president of the Mohawk Valley Garden and the Utica Comets’ AHL team, said that in 2022, the major accomplishment was the completion of the construction of the project, both on time and on budget.
He credits the contractors who worked on Nexus, Oneida County Anthony J. Picente Jr. and Carl Annese, chair of the Mohawk Valley Auditorium Authority, for their collaboration and support for the project.
“The good thing is, we had events planned before we opened, which added stress on the construction end of it, but when we opened, it’s been filled every weekend since we opened,” Esche said. “I think the events, as we move forward, are getting bigger and bigger.”
In 2023, Nexus is expanding into different events, like the Northeast Tattoo Expo, which is occurring in June, along with an antique clock expo and an engineering show. Esche said his biggest goal is to host a dog show in Nexus.
“The thing I really want to focus on in the future, in the next 15 to 18 months, is a massive music festival, where we can have a band in the Aud, a band in Nexus, and something in rinks two and three, along the lines of EDM music or something of that nature,” Esche said. “Where we can have all these different genres, kind of like what Woodstock was back in the day, in a small community with a great facility.”
However, Nexus does still have exciting plans for sporting events, like potentially hosting the world lacrosse championships.
“The thing that’s different about that is all the different countries that come to it,” Esche said. “It might be sports, but there’s nothing better than getting people from different countries coming to your hometown and visit. So, I’m really excited about that.”
Esche is also excited for a junior hockey tournament that will take place in March, with 29 teams from all over the country competing.
“Into the fall, I’m really going to be looking forward to, after almost a year, when we finally know how the building operates,” Esche said. “Right now, we’re just going through trying to understand where everything is and how it works. It’s a big building and it’s just something that’s been challenging, but it’s full, so that’s good.”
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