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LIC gets ice palace

New York City’s only true “Sky Rink” was celebrated with a “groundbreaking” on the rooftop of the Long Island City building upon which it will rest.
The City Ice Pavilion, set to open in October over the Sleepy’s Mattress Store at 47-32 32nd Place, is the brainchild of developer and self-described “frustrated old hockey player” Erik Eckstein.
“I played hockey as a child,” the 38-year-old founder and president of Eckstein Development said. “I have two kids now, and I was looking for things for them to do,” he added.
City Councilmember Eric Gioia praised the project as “A place where you can spend your weekends, spend your evenings, and my hope is that people will look around and say, ‘Wow! This is a really nice place to raise your family as well.’ ”
When completed, the $5 million rink will be open from October to April and offer times for hockey and figure skating as well as other programs, Eckstein said. It will be available to high school teams and intramural leagues and plans also call for free skating classes for community groups on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.
Noting that locations such as the “Sky Rink” at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan (which is actually on a second floor and not the rooftop) are so heavily utilized that “pick up” hockey games have to be played at 2 a.m., Eckstein observed, “he only ice time you can get is on some of the outdoor city rinks.”
The rooftop, which was replaced with a five-inch-thick slab of special light-weight concrete and steel, will have an 85 foot by 200 foot, National Hockey League (NHL) regulation-sized ice rink and seating under an inflated dome.
Outside of the 250 foot by 132 foot dome a seating area will accommodate skaters and customers for the “gourmet” coffee shop slated to open on the site.
The project presented some “interesting problems” according to project manager Ron Kraut. “Roofing is always problematic,” he said noting, “Luckily the structural steel was good for the project.”
The real problem wasn’t holding up the nearly 32,000 gallons of water needed to make a three-inch-thick ice surface, or all the piping and refrigerant (close to 200 tons all told), or even the five-ton Zamboni machine which would be driving around, according to Kraut.
Those forces pale in comparison to what is required to hold the “bubble” roof in place, he said. “To keep the roof inflated requires a slightly higher atmospheric pressure, about one pound per square inch,” he explained.
That doesn’t sound like much, but when you crunch the numbers, the force required to hold down the roof is a staggering 1,222,400 pounds.
“The material of the roof is an amazing space-age combination of vinyl and Kevlar, and it’s bound down with a latticework of strong steel cables,” he explained. “We had to construct a special steel box beam around the perimeter of the building just to keep it in place.”
With the engineering out of the way, the dignitaries on hand focused on the human equation.
“Hundreds and hundreds of kids will be exposed to the sport who never may have before,” said Paul Lloyd, vice president of New York State Amateur Hockey.
“Kids will benefit, the whole community will benefit,” said NHL legend and former New York Ranger captain Rod Gilbert who participated in the ceremony.

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