News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
County Center to Return to Traditional Use By Late February
After nearly three years of operating as an emergency healthcare facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the County Center in White Plains will be soon be turned over to Westchester as a sports and entertainment venue.
County Executive George Latimer announced Monday that the more than 90-year-old facility off the Bronx River Parkway will be available for use by the end of February.
“We will look forward to hosting many of the traditional groups that we’ve had at the County Center again this year,” Latimer said. “Since we didn’t know when it would be opened, we’re not going to have the full complement of things, but we are looking to bring back the home show, the baseball card show, the reptile show, which is one of my favorite ones, and of course, we are in negotiations right now with the Section 1 athletic conference to return the basketball finals for boys’ and girls’ high school basketball.”
The County Center will also host a statewide conference of American Legion posts later this year, he added.
During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in spring 2020, New York State took over the facility as an auxiliary hospital and equipped it with about 56 beds. There were also tents in the parking lot.
The following year, once COVID-19 vaccinations were available, the venue was transformed into a vaccination center.
Later Monday afternoon, Section 1 disclosed that members of its leadership team recently held a site walk through the center with county officials in anticipation that it could be available in time to host the semifinals and finals of the high school basketball championships.
“It was truly amazing to see the transformation that the Westchester County Center has undergone,” said Section 1 Executive Director Todd Santabarbara. “First, this storied space was converted into a medical facility as part of the greater effort to address the needs of our county in battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it is returning to serve once again as the premier venue to host our basketball championships. While renovations are ongoing, we are optimistic for its return.”
The section’s tentative schedule has the Class B semifinals opening on Monday, Feb. 27 with the finals in the various classes being held the weekend of March 3-5.
In addition to refurbishing the interior, Latimer said the County Center also had to address flood damage that the building incurred during Hurricane Ida on Sept. 1, 2021. Most of the damage occurred in the basement, and the building’s elevator system was compromised as well, he said.
Now that the building has been repaired to host events again, Latimer said it may not be as busy initially because it wasn’t clear when the county would be able to use it as it had previously.
“How many bookings we’re going to have this year, what we do about some of the traditional uses of the County Center over the course of the ’23 calendar year into ’24 will be determined as we go forward,” Latimer said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/