Volume 22, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 24 - 30, 2009
Ice, ice, baby: Rink is for real this year at B.P.C. ballfields
By Julie Shapiro
An ice rink is coming to Battery Park City this winter.
The 17,000-square-foot rink, more than twice the size of the one that opened in South Street Seaport last winter, will go in the B.P.C. ballfields during the months the fields are usually closed.
“We would like to extend the useful life of the fields,” said Stephanie Gelb, vice president of planning and design for the Battery Park City Authority. The goal is a community-oriented skating rink, “as if it’s a local pond,” Gelb said.
The authority is close to signing a deal with Rink Management Services Corp. to build the temporary rink on the fields each winter for the next six years. The rink will be of regulation National Hockey League size, approximately 200 feet by 85 feet. It will also have a 9-foot-wide skating path that will break off from the rink and meander around the northern part of the ballfields. Only one other rink in the country has a path like that, said Tom Hillgrove, president of R.M.S.
“It’s extremely unique, even for New York,” Hillgrove said.
The rink will be open seven days a week, starting sometime in December and running through late January or early February. The authority is still discussing hours and fees with R.M.S., but admission will be about $10, with skate rental at $3, the authority said. Skating and hockey lessons will cost about $15 a session.
The authority’s board voted Tuesday to give R.M.S. the contract.
Jeff Mihok, a B.P.C. resident, said he is looking forward to taking his children skating at the rink. He suggested a discounted rate for residents or a seasonal membership pass, options the authority is considering.
“I’m really happy to hear they’re going to make that happen,” Mihok said. “To have that space not used for five months of the year is crazy.”
The authority tried to bring an ice rink in for last winter but wasn’t able to pick an operator in time. The other operator that applied for the contract would have created a much more expensive, tourist-focused rink, which Gelb said had “a lot more glitz to it” and would not have been compatible with the community.
R.M.S. will pay the authority a minimum of $60,000 per year to rent the space and will pay more if the rink does well, Gelb said. In addition to building the rink, R.M.S. will bring in trailers and put up tents for concessions.
The revenue from the rink will offset the costs of some utility work the authority has to do at the fields. The authority plans to spend about $700,000 on the work, which includes removing an electrical panel and a shed from the fields’ south side, opening up more space for the local sports leagues to use.
Tom Merrill, president of Downtown Little League, said he has long been advocating for the authority to make those changes, which will provide room for batting cages and a place for pitchers to warm up.
“Every inch of space down there counts,” Merrill said.