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July 8, 2022 - 3:58pm

From beer and pizza to ice, Batavia entrepreneur proposes his next venture


Restaurants? Check. Brewery? Check. Quality apartments? Pizza shop? Of course.

After successfully dipping his hands into a varied professional portfolio, Matt Gray is now going into the ice business.

His bid, along with CAN-USA Sports, LLC, to manage operations at the city’s ice arena will be up for discussion at City Council’s conference meeting next week. It’s set for 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Earlier this year the city sought requests for proposal to take over the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena since Firland Management did not seek to renew its contract, which expired June 30. Listing a set of requirements and expectations for who the appropriate candidate would be, the city wanted a manager to help grow the use and presence of the Evans Street rink.

Apparently, according to a memo from City Manager Rachael Tabelski, Batavia Sports Facility Management, led by Gray, hit that sweet spot.

The company “submitted a proposal that is focused on increasing the long-term usage of the rink by actively targeting new local participants through marketing a broader selection of offerings, such as sunrise health programming, a summer roller public skate, curling and private party rentals,” she said.

“They are also focused on increasing the number of events held at the arena to attract large volumes of out-of-area users to realize the potential of the facility as an economic engine for the city,” Tabelski said. “These will include trade show, sports tournaments and concerts.”

Gray has an extensive background of serving on boards and putting his money where his mouth is. He owns Alex’s Place, has a partnership for Eli Fish Brewing Company and Matty’s Pizza, plus operates a property management company with retail properties and a mixed use building — with the brewery and seven market-rate apartments — in downtown Batavia. He also has a partnership for five restaurants in North Carolina. For the past 25 years, he has managed nine start-ups, developing several brands from concept and launch to a fully mature and operational enterprise.

Gray currently serves on the city’s Planning and Development Board, is vice president of Genesee County Economic Development Corporation and other current roles are on Batavia Development Corporation Small Business Workgroup, Batavia Business Improvement District Promotions Committee and as a USA Hockey Level 4 coach.

The entrepreneur has also served with other groups, including the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Committee, Batavia’s Creek Park Youth Hockey Economic Development Committee and is a founding member of the city’s Community Garden. He is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Genesee.

Speaking of money, Batavia Sports Facility Management has also proposed collaboration with the city to help with capital improvements at the ice facility “and expend funds from their own budget,” Tabelski said in her memo. That means doling out $140,000 toward capital expenses for:

  • Replacement of most fixtures for the concession area
  • Converting half of the office space to dry storage
  • Upgrade surfaces for a “warmer and inviting space” to serve as a party room
  • Install new LED lights throughout the facility
  • Add new inventory of roller and inline skates for summertime public use
  • Make improvements to the audio/visual system
  • Expand the food stand with dedicated seating in a sports bar concept
  • Invest in curling equipment

Tabelski has recommended that City Council approve an agreement with the Batavia management group.

Might there be craft beer and pizza in the arena’s future? Gray was not available for comment Friday.

2022 File Photo of Matt Gray, Batavia entrepreneur, who has now proposed management of the city's ice arena.

Roberta White
Roberta White's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Jun 20 2014 - 10:34pm

He's a great asset to our community.

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