First in the Sun: Rucker says Canal District rink adds long-term tenant

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As work progresses to clean up Canal District land where developers are planning an $18 million, mixed-use, dual-rink skating arena, its first college hockey tenants have agreed to a long-term lease.

Cliff Rucker, owner of Worcester Railers HC and a principal partner in the development of the former PresMet Corp. site, told Worcester Sun late Thursday, Aug. 11, the Becker College men’s and women’s hockey teams will join the Railers in committing to leasing space, including permanent locker rooms, at the planned 100,000-square-foot arena.

Worcester Sports Complex

Courtesy Worcester Railers

An artist’s rendering of the planned Canal District dual hockey rink complex.

“It’s all going to come at once in terms of announcements, but we are very close to, within the next 45 to 60 days, to having the arena nearly fully committed,” Rucker said in a phone interview.

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Rucker would not confirm specific terms of the lease. Becker representatives were unavailable for comment.

Cliff Rucker

Courtesy Worcester Railers HC

Cliff Rucker

“Obviously, they’re a school in the community. They’ve expressed interest in growing their program. And they’ve also expressed frustration with not having a home ice,” Rucker said. “They go from rink to rink and they cobble together time. They were really looking for a home.”

Rucker expects two more local colleges and two local high schools to round out the roster of tenants before November.

“[Becker was] wonderful to work with and devoted to the community. Those are the kind of tenants we are looking for. We want this to be as much of a part of the community as possible and not just a hockey rink. It’s why we put all the amenities in there. It just felt like a great marriage,” Rucker said.

Rucker said he also expects to announce tenants for the retail and amenity spaces in the arena within the same timeframe. The North Shore businessman said he has “soft commitments” on all of the available amenity space.

The land where the rinks will be built is owned by New Garden Park Inc., a subsidiary of the Worcester Business Development Corp., and will be leased to Marathon Sports Group partner Scott Rouisse and Rucker, who are the managing partners of Worcester Sports Center LLC with headquarters at 112 Harding St.


Sun Staff / Worcester Sun

The former PresMet Corporation site on the corner of Harding and Winter streets

The complex — anchored by two full-size ice rinks and eight locker rooms — is slated to include, Rucker said, an 8,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility; 4,000 square feet of physical therapy space; a 6,500-square-foot, full-service restaurant; coffee shop, pro shop and retail merchandise store complete with Worcester Railers gear.

Attempts to reach Frank Millerick, assistant vice president and athletic director at Becker College, weren’t immediately returned.

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