Oct. 9 – WILKES-BARRE – Sen. John Yudichak on Saturday announced the state’s continued support for funding Luzerne County’s tourism assets with a $500,000 Visitor Attraction Marketing Program grant awarded to the Toyota SportsPlex on Coal Street.
The SportsPlex facility serves as the training center and administrative offices for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and serves as the recreation center for the area, hosting public skating, figure skating, and hockey camps and clinics.
“For more than two decades, Luzerne County, the Town of Wilkes-Barre and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have partnered to attract thousands of visitors, which has helped create hundreds of jobs and generated millions of dollars in the economy of northeast Pennsylvania,” said Yudichak, I-Swoyersville. “State grant funding has been instrumental in strengthening this public/private partnership, which will be further strengthened with planned infrastructure upgrades to the Toyota SportsPlex facility that will enhance the experience. client.”
Most recently, in April of this year, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins “Project Power Play” opened an outdoor dek hockey rink outside the SportsPlex which was partially funded by another $250,000 tourism grant. $ from the Department of Community and Economic Development. In January 2021, Yudichak and Luzerne County officials worked to secure CARES Act funding to make much-needed upgrades to the Mohegan Sun Arena that allowed the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to continue calling the region and the arena for years to come.
The $500,000 Tourist Attraction Marketing Grant will be used for the following renovations and improvements:
—The pro shop will be renovated to serve all hockey, figure skating and free skating skaters.
—The players’ bench area of the rink will be improved to make it more user-friendly for all types of skaters.
—The plumbing infrastructure will be updated to make the installation more user-friendly.
—New LED lighting for the rink and concourse will be installed to be more economical and allow for interactive light shows at various types of skating events.
The renovation project is expected to be completed within a year.
“The Toyota SportsPlex is an incredible community asset, serving as the home base for more than a dozen youth hockey teams, local figure skaters, youth and adults learning to skate, and those who wish to stay physically active” , said Jeff Barrett, CEO of Wilkes. -Barre/Scranton penguins. “The facility’s hosted tournaments, camps and clinics attract thousands of out-of-town visitors each year and contribute to other local businesses including restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. Proposed improvements will allow the building to continue to provide high-quality education and entertainment in a safe environment and attract even more out-of-town guests for years to come.”
Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown said he was grateful to Yudichak for securing the grant for the SportsPlex.
“Senator Yudichak has always been a very important leader in bringing investment to the town of Wilkes-Barre,” Brown said. “The SportsPlex renovations will benefit our local athletes, teams and families, as well as visiting athletes, teams and their families, thereby enhancing tourism in the city.”
The Marketing to Attract Tourists program provides funds to support and develop international tourism, sports marketing, outdoor recreation and cultural attractions.
Not-for-profit organizations that have a strong interest in developing tourism products that provide a visitor experience in a tourism region can apply.
The SportsPlex houses the offices and practice facilities of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, offering programs to the public, such as camps and clinics, public skating, hockey programs and skating artistic. These programs will continue during the renovation project.
Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.