JRA, a leading experience designer, is working with Cortina Productions on the design of a brand new indoor play space in Jamestown, New York, which aims to be a year-round venue for the children of Jamestown, Chautauqua County, and the surrounding Western New York and Northwestern PA communities to play.
TheZone, within the Northwest Arena, will be an interactive play space for children aged 2 to 12 years old. It promises to be a colourful, fun and inviting venue, from the LED marquee that welcomes visitors, to the five zones of diverse, dynamic activities inside.
Opportunities for active play
TheZone is expected to open in summer 2022, following an ongoing fundraising effort. The Campaign for TheZone began a $4 million fundraising effort, the key part of an $8.5 million project to expand the Northwest Arena. The physical expansion was completed in May of 2021 and $700,000 has been pledged to date toward TheZone’s fixtures and exhibits.
The project aims to address the lack of indoor recreational spaces for children in the region, as identified in the State of Play Western New York report published in 2017 by the Aspen Institute and funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Currently, the Northwest Arena is the only non-membership-based facility in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany Counties providing indoor recreation opportunities for young people all year round.
It will help to encourage physical activity within this demographic, through sports-themed experience and play, which supports the development of physical skills and mental stimulation, leading to better health and cognitive function in adulthood. Studies have found that if children take part in regular activity before 12, they are more likely to stay engaged. However, only 16% of children in Western New York currently meet the CDC recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity each day.
TheZone will benefit both local & visiting families
TheZone will benefit local families, as well as those visiting the Northwest Arena, the City of Jamestown, and Chautauqua County. It will feed on and fuel the success of other attractions in the area, thus benefitting the whole neighbourhood. Jamestown and Chautauqua County are on a mission to become renowned destinations for family fun, with recent investments to City Parks, the National Comedy Center, Jamestown Riverwalk, and more.
The venue will feature affordable admission tickets, as well as play scholarships and sponsored free play events. This will help to lower the financial barriers to play. TheZone will also partner with clubs and organisations that already cater to children in the community, allowing them to host programming at the venue.
In addition, TheZone features a fully ADA-compliant design. Young visitors will be able to play in a way that is meaningful for them, from designing a sports uniform to testing their speed against real and simulated rivals, as well as climbing, throwing balls, jumping and creating their own play in an enriching, age-appropriate space.
Across the US, children’s museums add $5.5 billion to the economy each year. Each dollar in museum spending ripples out to create $3.66 in economic activity. TheZone expects to bring in around 45,000 visitors per year once well-established, in addition to the Northwest Arena’s existing 250,000 annual turnstile visits.
Earlier this year, JRA partnered with the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal to present a new exhibit, using Artificial Intelligence technology to create the opportunity for visitors to have virtual conversations with Holocaust survivors.