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Friday, January 30, 2015

If Cornerstone CFCU Arena officials have their way, they'll be getting $150,000 and hosting an NHL preseason game thanks to a contest sponsored by Kraft.

The "Hockeyville" contest will pay for $150,000 in arena upgrades to the hockey arena selected as having the most passionate fans, who will, in turn be granted a preseason game by two unannounced NHL teams.

The contest asks local fans to write nominations for the arena of their choice, asking them to explain why their city is deserving of the title "Hockeyville." It was first mentioned locally by ENP Columnist George Root, whose Wednesday column asked local residents to cast their nominations. Sixty-five people have done so already, including Lockport Community Development Director Chuck Bell.

Bell's nomination says, "Cornerstone Arena is the best thing to happen to our City in decades. We have been without ice for 30 years and in the last 4 months we have seen hockey, figure skating and public skating return to our downtown. In tough economic times for our rustbelt community, our arena is essential for keeping our chins up and our chests out."

Chuck Bell, who serves as vice president of the Lockport Ice Arena board, says he's all-in for the plan to go after the Kraft prize. While the city itself has no official involvement in the planned campaign, Bell is certain the the arena will support the endeavor.

This logo was created by Brian Smith to use for Cornerstone
CFCU Arena's push to host an NHL preseason game and get
$150,000 in upgrades. (CONTRIBUTED ART)
The Greater Lockport Development Corp., the city's development arm, hasn't had a chance to discuss the endeavor, but Brian Smith, vice president of business development, is also in on the campaign. In fact, he created a logo for the planned public push this morning.

Contest rules allow for nominations through March 18. Following the nomination phase, the entries will be judged by Kraft on three primary criteria: Passion for hockey (34%); creativity/originality (33%); and community spirit (33%). Kraft will pick 10 finalists ― five in the east and five in the west. Those finalists will then move on to the voting phase. Votes can be cast online, by phone and by text. The two finalists in each geographic location will move on to a second round of voting. And the one with the most votes in that second round will then move on to a third and final voting round — east vs. west. The entrant with the most votes in that final round will be named "Hockeyville" and will receive the top prize. The second place winner will receive $75,000 in arena upgrades.

Bell said Thursday that the arena could certainly find use for the money. There were certain features in the original arena plans that had to be scrapped as cost-saving measures. Some of those could be revived with the extra cash.

Arena officials plan a full-court press ― to borrow a phrase from another sport — using social media and word of mouth to increase Lockport's chances of being "Hockeyville, USA."

Arena officials aren't the only prominent residents wanting Lockport to win the big prize. Lockport Express Coach Frank Vecchio also posted a nomination of his team's arena, as did City Clerk Richelle Pasceri.

Pasceri's post is entitled, "Lockport needs hockey like macaroni needs cheese."

The post says "Cornerstone Ice Arena is the showpiece our city needed at a time we needed it the most! Lockport has had its fair amount of challenges recently and the ice arena has been an incredible source of pride and revitalization for our community. To have national recognition from Kraft, the NHL and all affiliated organizations is exactly what Lockport needs. Please consider our great city to be the next Hockeyville USA."

Vecchio's nomination says, "Lockport, NY has not had an ice arena in 28 years and now it does. It has been monumental towards reviving this city and my Junior A team plays there. We are a key part of the rebuild of the city and we can use even more help to bring this economy back to life. Thank you."

To nominate Cornerstone CFCU Arena, click the link at the bottom of the page or scan the QR code with your phone or tablet.

Scan this with your phone or tablet to
be taken directly to the Cornerstone
CFCU Arena nomination page.

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