By Jeremy Walsh
After a month of skaters wearing it in, officials brought a different set of bladed instruments to the new World Ice Arena at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, cutting a ceremonial ribbon and ushering in what they hope is a new era of quality winter sports in the borough.
The $66 million, 110,000âˆ’squareâˆ’foot facility opened its doors in February, hosting nearly 20,000 ice skaters since then. The facility also boasts an NHL regulationâˆ’size rink, as well as an Olympicâˆ’size pool.
To celebrate the opening, the Ice Theatre of New York is providing free performances and skating clinics at the facility in April and May.
“I think it’s safe to say the people in CB 7 have the best sports facilities in the city,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said during the opening ceremony last Thursday. “Flushing Meadows has become a sports mecca for the city.”
Borough President Helen Marshall called the rink “a prime example of the importance of the borough president’s capital discretionary allocation,” noting she provided $13 million of the construction costs. Former Borough President Claire Shulman, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Councilman John Liu (Dâˆ’Flushing) helped cover the rest of the expenses, she said.
Marshall praised the facility’s potential for cultivating local athletes.
“Who knows the number of future Olympians that live right in the borough?” she said.
Liu said he skated at the old rink as a child and could not wait to get his skates on again.
“I am so excited to see this fantastic facility open for the kids of Flushing and all of New York,” he said. “I wish I was a kid again, but I will live my dream through the eyes of my own kid, who is 8 years old.”
Matthew Sapolin, commissioner of the mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, praised the Parks Department for working to make the facility accessible to the disabled.
“I am proud to say that this arena is built for sled hockey,” he said, as a number of disabled skaters waited in NHL jerseys to put on an exhibition game.