Pols back rink plan for Kingsbridge Armory
By Adam Wisnieski
When Councilman Oliver Koppell was an assemblyman, he had an idea inspired by a facility in Lake Placid, where his daughters used to ice skate. He wanted to turn the vacant Kingsbridge Armory into a skating complex.
Almost 20 years later, Mr. Koppell and a group of Bronx leaders — led by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. — have thrown their support behind turning the vacant building into a hockey and ice-skating mecca.
Standing alongside New York Rangers legend Mark Messier and Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes in front of the Armory on Aug. 23, Mr. Diaz said he thought the Kingsbridge National Ice Center was the best proposal for the vacant 575,000 square-foot building. He said the proposal — led by a group of investors, including banker Kevin Parker with backing by Mr. Messier and Ms. Hughes — is the best plan for the Bronx.
“This development will allow our borough to realize the potential of the Kingsbridge Armory,” Mr. Diaz said.
Mr. Messier said the ice center’s educational programs could help guide youth and instill leadership skills that would help with many facets of their lives.
“That’s what interested me about this project, lending our hand to the kids in the community, using hockey as a metaphor for life, and providing these kids with skills for life, that no matter what they do, no matter where they go, they can take these lessons with them,” he said.
The proposal includes nine ice skating rinks, including one outdoor rink, an educational component modeled after the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation based in Philadelphia, and 50,000 square feet of community space.
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Assemblymen Jose Rivera and Nelson Castro and President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Stuart Appelbaum attended the announcement as well. The councilman representing the area where the Armory is located, Fernando Cabrera, was conspicuously absent. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz announced his support of the ice center in a press release on Monday.