By Nathan Duke
Long Island City residents in search of affordable skating will need to look no farther when western Queens' first ice rink opens on the roof of a 32nd Place building in October.
The $4 million rink, known as the City Ice Pavilion, will include an ice skating school, free public skating and ice hockey training. The center, the first of its kind in western Queens, is at 47-32 32nd Place in Long Island City.
"We've long needed something like this here," said Rod Gilbert, the all-time leading New York Rangers scorer who attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the rink last Thursday. "Kids in the community will benefit from it."
City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) said neighborhood skaters have long been forced to travel to Manhattan to play ice hockey or skate.
"Like most kids who grew up here, I'd have had a better chance learning to fly an airplane than ice skate," he said.
The rink, two blocks from the No. 7 train on Queens Boulevard, will open in October and close for the season in April, said Jill Feldman, a City Ice Pavilion spokeswoman. At full capacity, the rink can hold 500 skaters.
The rink, which meets National Hockey League standards in its size, will feature a number of classes, including ice and figure skating, as well as youth and adult hockey leagues, Feldman said.
Attendees who bring their own skates will only pay $5 to use the rink, while borough students will be able to take free skating classes after school Mondays and Wednesdays, she said. The pavilion will also house a gourmet coffee bar.
The 85-foot-by-200-foot rink, which will shelter visitors from winter weather under a large air dome, will also have on-site parking. The pavilion's staff will include former and current professional hockey players.
The borough's only other ice skating rink is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.