Thousand Islands Local Development Corporation

Our Mission

The primary mission of the Thousand Islands Local Development Corporation (LDC) is to provide leadership for, and act as an agent for responsible economic growth in the Thousand Islands/North Country Region of upstate New York, to include the visioning, sponsorship, and funding of recreation, sports, and entertainment venues and other facilities that further that objective for the benefit of all communities in the Region.

Thousand Island Local Development Corporation

Joel Bartlett


John Morgia


Michelle Traynor


Thomas Bowie


Robert Kowalik


William Caprara


Mark Gebo


Frederick Hager


Michael Campbell


22867 Co. Rte 67 Watertown, N.Y. 13601


Thousand Islands Events Center

The Thousand Islands LDC has undertaken the role of project sponsor in the development of the proposed The Thousand Islands Multi-Purpose Event Center (MEC) in the Town of Watertown, NY, multi-purpose event center (MEC) to provide sports, recreation, entertainment, and large meeting space critically lacking in the Thousand Islands/North Country region. The MEC will be an $85 Million, 520,000 sf multi-use indoor facility providing state-of-the-art flexible space for a complete range of sports, recreation, entertainment, and special events serving the Thousand Islands/North Country region and southern Ontario, Canada.

The Need

This dynamic project will greatly improve the quality of life in the region, create reasons for families to stay and grow here, and build on tourism as an increasingly significant driver in our economy. Supporting the case for the MEC are a number of key factors, including:

The Thousand Islands currently generate among the lowest tourism revenues in the state: less than 1% of all tourism dollars.

The Watertown area ranks in the bottom 25% of comparable U.S. communities in the provision of large, modern, meeting space capacity.

The region’s proximity to Southeastern Ontario accesses a growing international market of over 4.2 million people, where quality facilities for indoor sports and recreation are few.

Communities across the nation are creating state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facilities to improve their quality of life and drive economic growth, and the Thousand Islands/North Country must do so to be able to compete.

The Thousand Islands region possesses some of the world’s most outstanding natural environments, offering an unparalleled base upon which to establish itself as a premier destination for year ‘round youth and adult sports, recreation, and entertainment.

Projected for 12 /2024.
Arsenal Road, Town of Watertown, NY on land to be acquired by the Thousand Islands LDC.
Thousand Islands LDC
Mike Sherman Sports (MS2, owned by Mike Sherman, former Head Coach and General Manager of the Green Bay Packers) in partnership with OVG Facilities, the world’s leading developer/owner/operator of sports and entertainment facilities with over $10 Billion constructed or in-progress, including the newly built NHL arenas in Seattle and New York.
Key Features:
  • 2 indoor turf fields (one full FIFA), 8 basketball/16 volleyball courts, 4 pickle ball courts
  • 220m hydraulic banked track plus infield sports space
  • 6 batting cages and 8 pitching stations; four golf simulators
  • 2 NHL ice sheets with seating for 3,000, plus figure skating skills rink and curling rink
  • 16 wrestling stations, 8 pitching/batting cages, gymnastics/dance area
  • 265,000 sf of flexible clear span space for trade shows/conferences/meetings
  • 9,000+ seats for concerts/shows/sports competitions/special events
  • 28 seat e-sports suite and full multi-media capabilities
  • Training and sports performance space, daycare, café, sports bar and restaurant
  • 4 fully lighted outdoor turf fields for competition play, camps, clinics and tournaments

Estimated construction cost financing sources:

Private Equity $25.0 Million
Public $23.0 Million
Taxable Bond $37.0 Million
Total $85.0 Million

A World Class Team

Recognizing the heavy demand on the State for capital projects of all kinds, the LDC has sought out private sector partners to add “big shoulders” to the project both in terms of the expertise required, and the provision of capital with which to create a true public private partnership (P3). We have selected MS2 and Oak View Group (OVG) as our development and operating partners, both of whom bring unparalleled development, management and financial resources to the project.

MS2, helmed by Mike Sherman, former Head Coach and General Manager of the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, operates top tier instructional camps, clinics, and tournaments across a range of sports. MS2 owns and operates the Seahawks youth and developmental hockey clubs and the Seahawks Junior A Hockey Team and academy on Cape Cod, MA, which plays in the Eastern Hockey League.

OVG, based in Los Angeles, is by far the leading developer/manager of sports and entertainment facilities in the world, with over $10 Billion in construction recently completed or underway, including the newly opened NHL arenas in Elmont, NY at Belmont Raceway (UBS Arena) and Seattle, WA (Climate Pledge Arena), and those recently opened or opening soon in Austin, TX, Palm Springs, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Milan Italy, and Manchester, UK.

Outstanding Relationships

As co-operating partners, OVG will be responsible for all non-sports entertainment, special event programming, and facility operations at the MEC, while MS2 will manage all recreational sports activities and deliver training, development, and sports event programs for young athletes at all levels, with co-emphasis on education and life skills. The strength of the MS2/OVG team is evident in the world-class company they keep, notably: Live Nation-the preeminent live entertainment company in the world; famed soccer team Liverpool FC; Nancy Kerrigan Figure Skating; Ivan Lendl Tennis Academy; Sean Quirk, former head coach of the Boston Cannons Premier Lacrosse League team; and the Seahawks developmental, youth, and Junior hockey programs and Academy (owned by MS2), member of the Eastern Hockey League.”

Leading Designers

Working with leading sports and entertainment venue advisors, Venue Strategies LLC, and designers, Yaeger Architects and Arizon Building Systems, the MS2/OVG team has conceived the Thousand Islands Event Center as an exciting and innovative multi-purpose event facility to be located on land owned by the LDC.

A Truly Unique Community Asset

Without doubt, the MEC will be a true community facility, designed to work with local entities such as the academic and athletic programs at BOCES and JCCC, scholastic sports programs, youth/adult leagues, and non-profit groups.  It will be the expressed mission of the MEC to work closely with, and be complimentary to, existing local service entities and groups, adding to the resources already available in the market while extending the capabilities of the region to draw in outside visitors through new sports, recreation, and entertainment programming created in-house at MEC.

Transformative Benefits for the Thousand Islands Region

The benefits of the project far outweigh its cost; and surely would be of immense benefit to the Thousand Islands/North Country, a predominantly rural region with abundant natural resources that with the MEC can be leveraged to drive economic growth and enhance our quality of life. Indeed, MS2 and OVG see what we see: that the unique natural resource base of the Thousand Islands affords a distinct competitive advantage from which to establish a true four-season sports/recreation/entertainment destination, one that helps ensure the vibrancy of the region for years to come by delivering a broad range of economic benefits:

Over 520,000 sf of usable indoor space (including a two-sheet ice arena) with special event seating for up to 9,000, providing a complete range of sports, recreation, entertainment, and special event space designed to serve the entire Thousand Islands/North Country region.

Creation of 220 full-time construction jobs and $19.80 Million in short term (i.e., 18-20 months) payroll.

A collaborative public/private (P3) development initiative for which MS2/OVG would own the MEC, arrange substantial private investment, and provide all development, management, and operations at the MEC under a long-term ground lease with the LDC.

Creation of at least 250 new events in the region each year, drawing over 305,000 new visitors annually (of which more than 93,500 will be overnight visitors)

Generation of $25-$28 Million in annual visitor spending ($250-280 Million over 10 years) representing a return of 8-9 times on the requested investment from the State.

The broad economic impact of the MEC will be felt year-round, but significantly in the fall and winter months when tourist activity slows appreciably, raising hotel occupancy from 52 to 65% and generating $5.64 Million in new local hotel revenue within the region.

Creation of 50 full-time on-site jobs with a combined annual payroll of over $2,600,000, and 28 new full-time equivalent jobs in the market (i.e., spillover employment) generating additional annual payroll of approximately $1,125,000.

Bring in a total of $11,400,000 and $846,000 in incremental sales tax + hotel tax revenue, respectfully, from local spending over the first five years of operation.

A Vital Long-Term Investment for the Thousand Islands and the North Country

In sum, the MEC would be a truly superlative asset, providing the Thousand Islands/North Country region with a highly competitive, state-of-the-art facility with which to build and sustain a robust regional tourism base while serving the critical long-term needs of communities across the region.

What’s New

Contact Information

Joel Bartlett, Chairman

22867 County Rt. 67
Watertown, N.Y. 13601

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Why not the 1000 Islands?

A Sample of Comparable Projects Receiving Major State Funding From Across New York State.

DL&W Train Station  

(Buffalo)   $30 Million

Olympic Redevelopment Authority  

(Lake Placid)   $182 Million

Nexus Center

(Utica)   $23 Million

National Comedy Center  

(Jamestown)    $23.5 Million

Carey Gabay Community Center  

(Brooklyn)   $15 Million

Mohawk Harbor Arena  

(Schenectady)   $10 Million

Proposed Thousand Islands Event Center: Renderings