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Hamburg sportsplex developer says negotiations ongoing

The location of the proposed sportsplex in Hamburg still is not settled, but the developer said there might be a deal on a site in several weeks.

Some details are coming out about Hamburg’s proposed $25 million to $30 million sportsplex after the Town Board got an update from the developer this week.

Here’s the latest:

Marty Starkman, president of Sportstar Capital of Toronto, Ont., said he is still negotiating on the purchase of a site, and expects to hear news in two to three weeks on the property.

“The longer the negotiations go, the better for the town,” he said.

He is to acquire property the town deems “suitable,” under terms of his agreement with the town. The agreement also calls for the town to pay a refundable deposit to secure the property. The money would be returned once the financing is in place.

The town will not borrow the $25 to $30 million to finance the purchase of the land or the construction of the two ice rinks, the sports courts or the field house. That will be up to Sportstar Capital of Toronto, Ont., as part of the public-private venture.

“Public-private partnership is a form of financing and construction used throughout Canada and it’s used in many states across the United States. Unfortunately, New York is one of states late to the table,” Supervisor Steven Walters said.

The board is planning to schedule an information session for the public in several weeks.

If the facility loses money after it opens, the town would have to help make up the deficit, town officials said. The details of that are still unclear.

“If there’s a loss, the deficit would be bonded,” Councilman Tom Best Jr. said during Monday’s Town Board work session. “There is a chance the town will lose money. It’s not being funded by the town.”

There has been some talk that the developer would put $500,000 in a “safety net” account that the town could use as its share of any deficit.

After 25 or 30 years, the town would own the facility. Starkman said financing a $30 million project over 25 years does not work financially because the losses in the first year would be too high, but he said numbers are still being crunched.

He also said he is looking into securing a grant for a solar roof that will cut the electrical bills in half for the structure.

“There’s a big push to make this as green as possible,” he said.

Representatives of the developer have met with sports teams in the town, and “there was a positive reaction from everybody,” Starkman said.

But Best said he’s met with representatives of several high school and youth hockey teams, and they have concerns. They are excited about getting more ice time, but worried about the cost, particularly since one school made improvements at a private rink, and another school is not charged ice time in exchange for town use of its facilities.

“If they have concerns I think we have to listen,” Best said. “Getting the (Hamburg) Hawks on board is crucial.”

Starkman said he told the teams the rate for ice time today at the proposed sportsplex would be about $225 an hour, but he added, “we are trying to predict two years out.”


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