News Release - City Issues RFP for Operation of Blue Cross Arena

City of Rochester

News Release

(Tuesday, April 2, 2024) – Mayor Malik D. Evans today announced that the City has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the operation and management of the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. Located in the heart of Downtown Rochester, the 14,000-seat arena is the Finger Lakes Region’s primary sports and entertainment destination and is slated to undergo a $7 million upgrade as part of the City’s Roc the Riverway initiative.

“The Blue Cross Arena is one of the jewels that keeps our city vibrant,” said Mayor Evans. “We continue to build tremendous momentum in redefining our center city as a place where people desire to live, work, and play, and the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial is central to that goal.”

Rochester Arena, LLC (RA), a Pegula-related entity, is the current operator of the Blue Cross Arena. RA entered into an arena license agreement with the City on Oct. 14, 2019 that granted the organization exclusive use of the Arena. That contract included a provision that enabled RA to opt out of the license agreement by providing the City with 180 days advance written notice of their intent to do so.

In December 2023, the two entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that established three new dates by which written notice of RA’s intent to opt-out needed to be provided: Jan. 31, Feb. 29, and Mar. 31, 2024.

RA provided written notice on March 28, 2024 of their intent to opt-out. Under the MOU, RA will continue to operate the Arena through April 30, 2025, at which time the Arena operator selected through the RFP process will fully assume operation and management responsibilities. The April 30 date allows for a six-month transitional period for a new Arena operator, which would begin their work in October.

RA's opting out of the contract does not affect the Rochester Americans’ or Knighthawks’ occupancy of the arena.

In the RFP, the City is seeking qualified facility managers to provide operational, sales, and marketing services for the 255,540 square-foot arena, which was built in 1955 and had a $41 million renovation in 1998. Visiting locker room and concession upgrades were made in 2020, and as part of the Roc the Riverway plan for the arena, a riverside addition would expand the concourse level concession area to an open, club seating concept to allow more access to the venue.

The City owns the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial and maintains the building through its capital improvement budget. A state-of-the-art exterior digital marquee provides operators with advertising revenue opportunities. In addition to professional sports, the arena hosts a wide variety of entertainment events, high school and college sporting events, trade shows and more. It is also home to a veterans memorial.

Minimum qualifications for bidders include the successful management of at least one all-purpose arena with a seating capacity of at least 10,000 persons during the last three years, among others. The City will offer prospective respondents a tour of the facility on April 16 and April 23, and the submission deadline for proposals is May 17. The City’s intended schedule would allow the selected vendor to commence transitioning the operation and management of the facility on October 15, 2024. The RFP document with complete details is located at


The Administration of Mayor Malik D. Evans strives to create a safe, equitable and prosperous Rochester by inspiring hope and delivering opportunity for everyone. Guided by the Administration’s Mission, Vision and Values and the principles of the “Rochester 2034” comprehensive plan, City employees are committed to providing exceptional customer service, transparent stewardship, and collaborative leadership to foster a vibrant community that empowers personal, professional and generational growth for all who live, work or play in the city of Rochester.