Old Saratoga Restorations is starting this week on its part of an effort that will finally give the Saratoga Rowing Association a home worthy of the contribution it has made to the community for nearly two decades.
The Saratoga Training and Regatta Center on Route 9P, scheduled to be completed in February 2016, is the cornerstone of a $1.25 million capital campaign fueled with contributions from Bonacio Construction, Stewart’s Shops, the Dake Family, Adirondack Trust Company and other donations and grants, including a kick-starting state economic development grant in late 2013.
Old Saratoga Restorations is donating its services for roofing, siding repair, trim work and painting on an existing outbuilding that will become the Trophy Cottage. When finished, the renovation will give the SRA a place to create and store the unique Head of the Fish trophies much-prized by winners of the Saratoga regattas.
Tom Frost, who is the architect for the new Training Center and a long-time rowing supporter, created the method of drying , painting and mounting real fish heads for the iconic racing trophies.
The construction of the SRA Training and Regatta Center is being performed at cost by Bonaccio Construction on an acre lot near the New York State boat launch on 9P, where Saratoga Lake meets Fish Creek. Work began in late September with the demolition of the former Lakeside Market.
The Saratoga Racing Association adds more than $8.9 million a year to the local economy with the state scholastic championships, the Head of the Fish, the Tail of the Fish, the Saratoga Invitational, the North American Junior B/C Championships and Section II Championships, according to the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau. Most of that economic impact – including more than 10,000 hotel nights – comes between Labor Day and Memorial Day, complementing Saratoga’s summer tourism season. More than 30,000 participants and spectators are involved each year in SRA events.
While smaller, lesser known regattas operate from multi-million dollar facilities, the SRA has been managing its growing regatta schedule from an 80-by-80 boathouse and a donated camping trailer.
“When it’s up and running, we will have the capacity to train 200 young athletes in grades 7-12, plus 40 adults, all in one day,” SRA Board President Katherine Smith. “The new training facility will have locker rooms and showers… the bottom floor will have a staffed regatta office that will serve as a headquarters for event activities.
The rowing association also recently built a new 22-by-140 foot sculling pavilion on its current site on Fish Creek with room for more than 40 single and double boats. Funded by the Wright Family Foundation, the pavilion makes it possible for the SRA to shelter all of its boats from the elements.