RYE, NY -- Surrounded by skaters and hockey players, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino threw down a ceremonial puck on center ice to mark the reopening of the famed Ice Casino at Playland, which had to be closed after suffering severe damage from Superstorm Sandy two years ago to the day.
“Our Ice Casino at Playland is like a great athlete,” Astorino said. “When it gets knocked down, it gets up and comes back stronger than ever. Now with our new partner, American Skating Entertainment Centers, joining us, slap shots, double axles, triple toeloops, thrills, spills and lots of family fun will be here at the Ice Casino for many years to come.”
On the evening of October 29 and into the morning of October 30, 2012, Superstorm Sandy tore up the East Coast leaving billions of dollars of damage in its wake. Playland Park and the Ice Casino, which sit right on the Long Island Sound in Rye, were hit hard. Now with a $4.9 million renovation project complete, the 85-year old Ice Casino is once again open to the public and its renowned Art Deco architecture, distinguished by a high-vaulted roof with crisscrossing wooden beams, has been fully preserved.
“Our vision for the Ice Casino is the same as our vision for Playland,” Astorino said. “Preserve the best traditions and modernize the facilities and attractions so the park can have a strong future both in terms of fun and finances. Teaming up with American Skating – a great Westchester company and one of the leading ice rink operators in the United States – helps us do just that.”
As the new operator, American Skating will invest $640,000 of its money into the building over the next 18 months for capital improvements. This money will go largely toward refurbishing and modernizing the interior with upgraded floors, lighting, electronics, bathrooms, locker rooms and guest services areas.
"We are honored to play a role in the vision to re-invent Playland,” said Shane Coppola, chairman and CEO of American Skating Entertainment Centers. “American Skating is committed to making Playland a world-class destination for figure skating and hockey programs by providing outstanding customer service, improving operating efficiencies, and making significant investments to upgrade our iconic facility. We are excited to be working with some of the most successful hockey and skating programs in New York.”
One of those programs is the men’s and women’s hockey teams from Manhattanville College, whose players were on hand for the reopening of the rink and arena.
“It’s wonderful for Manhattanville to get back on its ‘home ice’ at Playland,” said Manhattanville College President Jon Strauss. “We owe a great debt of gratitude to the County Executive, American Skating and all the folks who made our return possible. We’re now looking forward to terrific seasons for our women’s and men’s ice hockey teams and all their fans.”
Other returning groups and teams include the Westchester Dragons/Mariners, Rye Rangers, New Rochelle Lightning, Hockey North America, Rye Figure Skating Club, Westchester Vipers, HVHL Mite League, Rye High School, Fordham Prep, Nates Euro Hockey, Rye Town Titans and Team Image.
“The reopening of the Ice Casino could not come at a better time given that we are celebrating our 40th season,” said Karen Bresolin of the Rye High School Hockey Booster Club. “Players, coaches and parents have really missed being at their home ice. Now, we are all looking forward to great hockey and welcoming back our wonderful fans.”
The Ice Casino is now being operated as Playland Ice under an agreement with American Skating, the largest independent owner/operator of ice rinks in the United States. The 10-year agreement with American Skating, which includes an option to renew for an additional 10 years, included an upfront payment of $300,000 this year; a base payment of $250,000 commencing in 2015, which will increase by 2% each year thereafter; utilities and maintenance payments of $425,000 annually; and 25 percent of the gross revenue above $1.6 million annually.
Other announcements about the further re-invention of Playland are expected later this fall when a review of current park operations and future opportunities will be completed by Dan Biederman, an internationally recognized leader in urban and public space management, whose accomplishments include the restoration of Bryant Park in New York City.