Calling it a significant event in his lifetime, Batavia businessman Guy Pellegrino walked away from tonight’s City Council Conference Meeting with a good feeling that the Batavia Ice Arena soon will be named in honor of the late David McCarthy.
Pellegrino, owner of Pellegrino Auto Sales on Pearl Street Road, and Brian McCarthy, president of the David M. McCarthy Memorial Foundation, spoke to city lawmakers at the City Hall Council Board Room to let them know how much it would mean to them for Council to vote in favor of accepting their offer to purchase the naming rights of the Evans Street facility.
City management put out a Request for Proposal back in October and apparently has drafted a contract that stipulates annual payments of $3,100 from Pellegrino Auto Sales over a 10-year period for the privilege to rename the rink The David McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena.
“You couldn’t find a better person to have their name on that building,” Pellegrino said. “This is one of the most special things I have ever embarked upon.”
Pellegrino said he and David played hockey together from 1983 through the Batavia High Ice Devils’ run to the New York State finals in 1995.
“He was our team captain and was just one of my great, great friends,” he said. “But back to the naming rights and making sure David's name is on there. He was just very passionate, just a great, great hockey player and even greater person. So, to honor him -- that's honestly what we set out to do.”
David McCarthy was killed tragically in a motor vehicle accident in November 2006 at the age of 29. Shortly thereafter, his family and friends started the foundation in his name to support local youth sports.
His brother, Brian, said he appreciates Pellegrino’s generosity and will work closely with him to advance youth hockey and enhance what the arena has to offer for children and adults, alike.
“Guy came to us and said when this proposal (from the city) came out that he wanted to do this – not necessarily for his business, but in honor of his teammate and my brother, David McCarthy,” Brian said to the City Council members.
“Our family was just blown away that he wanted to do this. We thought, well, what can we do? So, what we bring to the table is … a charitable foundation that is passionate about improving and supporting youth athletics in Genesee County.”
McCarthy said the foundation has supported “a long and diverse list of organizations” over the past 15 years. The foundation has donated around $80,000 to youth sports during that time.
With help from his father, Michael, and other family and friends, McCarthy said the foundation is in a position to help sports groups get started or move to the next level.
“As Guy and I talked about it a few weeks ago, I have the fun job of often times getting back to these organizations, reporting to them that we're going to step in and help,” he said.
“We have a huge golf tournament every June where we raise money to support youth athletics and it's become a very big event, and the community has just been amazing in supporting us,” he mentioned. “So, we're excited to take kind of that recipe and join forces with the people that have been working hard for years to make the ice rink an amazing place, and maybe even add a little more to the equation.”
Both men said they are hopeful that their offer will be accepted when Council votes at its next Business Meeting on Feb. 14.
Judging by some of the Council members’ initial reactions, they have reason to be optimistic.
Patti Pacino said she has an 8-year-old and 4-year-old (grandchildren) that use the rink and said, “I couldn’t agree more” with their bid to win the naming rights.
Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. thanked both of them for “thinking about the long term” status of the rink and fostering public partnership; Tammy Schmidt noted that her son “grew up at the rink and now her grandson” and Robert Bialkowski said he was glad that somebody from Batavia responded to the RFP.
Bialkowski asked what would happen if the city leases the rink to a different management firm that wanted to change the facility's name. City Attorney George Van Nest said there is an opt-out clause and that would be addressed at that time.
For now, both Pellegrino and Brian McCarthy are spending their free time as coaches – teaching the basics of hockey to their young children.
“We’re coaching together at the beginner level. Yeah, the smallest kids on the ice – 4 and 5 years old; as little as they get,” McCarthy offered. “The two of us have a long extension to our own hockey adventure ahead of us with our sons.”
Photo: Guy Pellegrino, left, and Brian McCarthy address City Council tonight about their offer to have the Batavia Ice Arena named in memory of Brian's brother, David. Photo by Mike Pettinella.
Previously: City drafts resolution to name ice arena in memory of standout Batavia athlete David McCarthy