Long Island City rooftop rink opens

Long Island City rooftop rink opens
Michael Del Zotto, member of The New York Rangers, poses with youth hockey players during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the City Ice Pavilion last Thursday. The rooftop rink officially opened its doors to the public Saturday. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Jeremy Walsh

Rooftop recreation in Queens just got a lot colder, thanks to a brand-new ice rink in Long Island City.

Billing itself as the only rooftop rink in the five boroughs, the City Ice Pavilion at 47-32 32nd Place opened its doors last Thursday, complete with a demonstration from a figure-skating luminary, 1994 Olympic gold medallist Oksana Baiul, who paused from her routine on the ice to take part in a faux face-off between pee-wee hockey teams.

“It’s not about being the best, but it’s about having the opportunity to go out there and try to do your best,” she said of her own philosophy toward skating, but the observation might very well pertain to the creation of the facility, which offers classes for both hockey and figure skating. “You guys give us an opportunity to come and do what we love to do.”

The rink is also open to the general public several hours a day.

Erik Ekstein, chief executive of the real estate firm Ekstein Development, said he grew up playing hockey but remembered having to leave the city to play the game.

“It seemed to me a no-brainer,” he said about learning there were no private hockey rinks in Queens. The Long Island City location, two blocks south of Queens Boulevard and the No. 7 train, “seemed to be a real transit hub,” he said.

The company broke ground in July 2008 on the NHL-size rink, which is protected from the elements by a 34,000-square-foot inflatable air dome. Ekstein said he was not yet sure how many months of the year the facility would remain open.

The rink has also earned a nod from the New York Rangers, who have endorsed it.

Howard Jacobs, the Rangers’ vice president of marketing and ticket sales, noted the rink will be the site of a number of workshops with Rangers players like Michael Del Zotto, who was scheduled to teach a group of youngsters after the news conference last Thursday.

“We have the opportunity to touch so many kids and have them love the game as much as the players,” Jacobs said.

Ekstein is no stranger to skating in Queens, however. His other company manages the brand-new $66 million World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

But unlike that facility, which allows certain high school hockey teams to compete there, the Ice Pavilion is focusing on both younger and older players.

They have 15 teams in their youth hockey league and more than 30 adult teams on their roster, Ekstein said.

The new rink also got the seal of approval from City Councilman-elect Jimmy Van Bramer, who thanked Ekstein for “investing in Long Island City and making sure we have the opportunities for young people and old people alike.”

General admission is $5 on weekdays and $8 on weekends. The rink is open to the public from 1:30 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 1:30 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. Thursday; 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 3:50 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 2:20 p.m. Sunday.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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