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LOCKPORT – A $2 million fundraising campaign for the new Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center is under way, the arena’s board chairman said Tuesday.

John J. Ottaviano, who also serves as the city’s corporation counsel, announced that two members of the gold medal-winning U.S. sled hockey team from this year’s Paralympic Games, Adam Page and Paul Schaus, are serving as honorary co-chairmen of the drive.

The $13 million project, now under construction at the site of a former supermarket at Chestnut and Market streets, is to open in mid-September. In fact, Ottaviano said, there is no alternative.

“We have to open the doors Sept. 15. We have signed contracts with organizations,” he said.

The not-for-profit arena board has agreed to have the new twin-rink arena serve as home ice for the Lockport Express, an expansion team in the Junior A Northern States Hockey League.

The players will be teenagers hoping to be chosen to play at higher levels of junior hockey or to win college scholarships.

In addition, Ottaviano said, the arena board is to announce contracts shortly with some local youth hockey organizations and high school teams.

Also, a naming rights agreement is to be announced shortly, Ottaviano said.

Most of the funding for the construction came from a bank mortgage and grants from Lockport’s Grigg-Lewis Foundation, which gave $4 million in 2012, and the state’s Regional Economic Development Council, which granted $1 million in December.

Ottaviano said the fundraising effort “is for furnishings, fixtures and supplies … It affects (things like) dasher boards and Zambonis.”

He said the capital campaign will accept donations from the general public, but big-ticket donors are being emphasized.

“Right now I’m meeting with firms and individuals for pledges and commitments,” Ottaviano said. Another foundation grant also is being solicited.

R. Charles Bell, the arena vice chairman as well as the city’s director of planning and development, said Page and Schaus “are working with our architects to fine-tune specifications that are most suitable for persons with disabilities.”

Both are Erie County residents. Page, 22, who was born with spina bifida, played on the gold medal-winning U.S. sled hockey team at Vancouver in 2010 as well as this year’s in Sochi, Russia.

Schaus, 25, is a former Marine who lost both legs above the knee in the explosion of an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2009.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com