Actually, “another” is an understatement; City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City is only the second ice skating rink in Queens. According to Erik Ekstein, developer and managing partner of the brand new City Ice Pavilion, Manhattan has ten seasonal and full-time rinks. Queens had just one at the time, and that was World Ice Rink in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“We thought Queens was definitely underserved for a population of 2.5 million people, more people than Manhattan,” said Ekstein. “And one rink as opposed to ten in Manhattan...It seemed like a no-brainer."
Just a year after breaking ground, Pavilion kicked off its inaugural season on the weekend before Thanksgiving with performances by the Ice Theater of New York and free ice skating, skate rentals included. Of course I had to go check out what’s been billed as the only roof-top rink in all the five boroughs.
The ice rink is indeed on the roof of a four story building, but those afraid of heights need not fear. A 34,000 square-foot white Yeadon dome serves as the ceiling of the facility, obscuring outside view. Air is blown into the facility, inflating the dome like a giant balloon and giving it the ability to even take the roof off a building, though Ekstein said precautions have been taken to prevent that from happening.
Glance sideways at the “walls” and you will see that the dome covering the rink is just a huge ribbed piece of fabric. The lights add a mesmerizing effect, reflecting off the ice and causing the rink to look a lot like the inside of an ice castle.
The free public skating sessions held opening weekend drew crowds of at least 700 people, said Ekstein. There were a lot of parents and children, but from the looks of it, teenagers, young adults and couples had a blast as well.
The strategic alliance between the Pavilion and the New York Rangers seems to be bolstering the rink’s reputation. Within days of opening, it was already home to several children and adult ice hockey teams. It was endearing to see children as young as four skating more steadily than most adults do, and in uniforms and clutching hockey sticks at that.
Parents sat and watched their little ones practice while they chatted with each other, unknowingly epitomizing the City Ice Pavilion’s vision of becoming a community hub.
“It’s a gathering place for families and local kids, where they see their friends from school, and it really does create a sense of community,” said project manager Ron Kraut. “The City Ice Pavilion, we like to call it your neighborhood rink.”
All in all, I’d love to go back this winter because on top of everything else, the rates for public skating are very reasonable. Granted, I’m one of few New Yorkers who owns their own pair of ice skates, but I’ve paid at least 20 bucks to skate with my own skates in Manhattan on a weekday! The Pavilion offers several hours of ice time with skate rentals for about the price of a movie ticket.
Considering the economic times we’re in, we can all do with stretching limited dollars further in our quest for affordable yet enjoyable recreation.
The City Ice Pavilion is located at 47-32 32nd Place, Long Island City. Visit their website for more information.