Ex-Rangers captain Messier bats for NY ice-sports center
New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier has thrown his support behind the possible construction of a $275-million ice-sports center at the Kingsbridge Armory to entice the youth to try ice hockey and other ice-based sports.
Known for his various charity works for more than two decades, Messier said he agreed to join the Kingsbridge Armory project because of its potential to help children acquire leadership skills through sports.
“That’s what interested me about this project, lending our hand to the kids in the community, using hockey as a metaphor for life, and providing these kids with skills for life, that no matter what they do, no matter where they go, they can take these lessons with them,” Messier said.
The Kingsbridge Armory has been vacant since its military use ended in 1996. Several proposals have been made to redevelop the property but were rejected by the New York City Economic Development Corp. The corporation is reviewing another proposal, but hopes to reach a decision by the end of 2012.
Messier, who helped the Rangers end a 54-year Cup drought in 1994, is a partner in the project, along with former Olympic figure skater Sarah Hughes, a New Yorker who won gold at the Winter Games in 2002.
Developers estimate that the privately funded ice center would attract two million people each year and create roughly 1,800 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs. The Bronx’s first public skating rink is slated to open this fall in nearby Van Cortlandt Park.
“The ice sports center will open a new world of possibilities for the future generations of young people in the Bronx,” Messier added. “This project is not just about building rinks, it’s about creating opportunities for the kids in the Bronx.”
The Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) is expected to have nine indoor rinks, a seasonal outdoor rink, and a free figure-skating and hockey program for children. The main rink is expected to seat about 5,000 people, with four more rinks on each side of center ice. All rinks are expected to be NHL or Olympics regulation size.
The venue would include 50,000 square feet of community space for groups, along with an education program for local children.
The project is believed to be modeled after the Philadelphia-based Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which combines hockey and an off-ice life skills curriculum to help build character and academic qualities for inner-city children.