The Nexus Center is (literally) all about connections, and how to intertwine different sports and entertainment facets of Utica’s community into one. CEO of MVG and President of the Utica Comets Robert Esche has worked with local leaders to develop the plan for the Nexus Center – one of them being President of Utica College Laura Casamento. Casamento, who was appointed President just over a year ago, has been a strong supporter of The AUD’s development, and understands that the Nexus Center will catapult Utica’s tourism market forward at an expedited rate.
Casamento and Esche have had a sincere friendship that dates back to before Casamento became President of the college; the two have worked in conjunction to ensure that the Comets and Utica College Men’s and Women’s hockey teams foster a mutualistic relationship. Both organizations have evolved exponentially in the past couple of years, due in large part to the open dialogue fostered by Casamento and Esche that ensures both teams thrive and the community benefits from championship-contending professional and college teams.
So as the proposed plans for the Nexus Center move forward, Esche and Casamento plan to utilize their past experience to galvanize both organizations while improving local tourism. The Nexus Center will benefit both the Comets and Utica College, elevating tourism and the quality of life for residents, including college students, throughout the city. Casamento understands the need for an arts, sports, and entertainment district in downtown Utica, and feels that the epicenter could potentially intertwine itself with future Utica College programming.
“Our Sports Management students will have an extraordinary opportunity to gain first-hand experience learning virtually every aspect of managing a sports and entertainment venue,” Casamento explained. “This is an element that will put our program on the national map, and enhance the strength of our partnership with Mohawk Valley Garden and Robert Esche.”
Utica College’s sports management program is relatively new, but with recent AUD development and U District planning, Casamento believes the program would gain national prominence; Casamento and Esche see the potential to create innovative learning space and technological amenities at the proposed Nexus Center that will be designed specifically for Utica College’s sports management students. In addition, their proximity to the Comets is invaluable, as the students will overlap with not only full and part-time Comets employees but also with executives who possess extensive experience in the sports industry.
As Oneida County and the AUD Authority continue down the path of finalizing elements of The U District, the community continues to support the district and future development of Utica. Casamento and Esche, along with other pillars of the community, have refined a shared vision that they all feel represents the future of their area.
“Having Laura on board with me is something I am very grateful and appreciative of, as I value her knowledge in planning the future of our area as well as her friendship,” Esche explained. “The shared vision we have cultivated together over the past couple of years falls in line with the plans for the Nexus Center, whose development will directly benefit Utica College and further the partnership we have worked so hard to grow together.”
Casamento and Esche, who are both integrated into the Mohawk Valley through education and sports and entertainment, respectively, are also both local, and understand that The U District and Nexus Center represents a niche need to improve the area’s tourism and quality of life. More importantly, this upcoming season, they look to continue to build on the already-present civic pride that the Comets and Utica College have established together.