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Hamburg ends contract for ice rink complex with Sportstar

Hamburg Town Board members Monday night terminated a contract with the Toronto firm that was planning to build a $30 million public-private sports facility in the town.

Town Board members had little to say Monday after voting unanimously to end the contract.

"The owner of Sportstar Capital did send a letter previously to the town expressing that he felt the agreement was ended as well," Town Supervisor Steven J. Walters said at the meeting.

Walters said, after the meeting, that the letter also included a bill for $145,000.

The intent is to negotiate a fair settlement for the work the company completed, Town Councilman Thomas Best Jr. said.

The contract, approved in July 2016, became controversial when details about where it would be built and how much it might cost the town were not immediately disclosed. Some details were released, but the project seemed to halt after an allegation of an alleged bribe surfaced in May. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office found no evidence of a bribe being offered in connection with the project.

No bribe offered in Hamburg ice rink project, DA says

The contract approved by the Town Board 16 months ago called for the town to pay Sportstar $110,000 for a demographic analysis, $15,000 for a feasibility and financial analysis, and $20,000 to secure a letter of intent to buy the property.

There was some disagreement over the feasibility study submitted by Sportstar, with some board members questioning some of the statistics used and saying they wanted more information included in the study. The study also did not address a potential competing facility proposed by the Kaleta Group, with Liberatore Management Group and Ellicott Development, for a $15 million complex at the former McKinley Park Inn on McKinley Parkway that would include two ice rinks and two multi-sport fields.

Sportstar also did not nail down what would have been a major tenant.

The Hamburg Hawks Hockey Association — with 650 families — decided to rent ice from the Kaleta Group because it would be less expensive and it could be associated with Patrick Kaleta's HITS Foundation.

Hamburg has been talking about replacing or expanding its ice rink at the Nike Base for at least 10 years, and residents in 2009 voted down a proposal to privatize the town’s rink. Discussions started again in 2015.

The Sportstar project would have included twin ice rinks, a field house, gyms, a pro shop, a restaurant and a snack bar.

The public-private partnership would have been the first of its kind in the area. Sportstar would buy the property, build the facility and manage it. In several decades, the town would have owned the facility.

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