Alliance thinks twice about shrinking rink

Rising construction costs are forcing the Prospect Park Alliance to make some tough choices concerning the new Lakeside Center — but neighborhood hockey players will not suffer.

Previously, the Alliance had thought about shaving off 10 feet from the200-foot by 85-foot regulation size hockey rink slated to be part of Prospect Park’s ambitious new Lakeside Center.

Shocked players from thepopular Brooklyn Blades hockey program, however, were ready to drop the gloves (not really) when they heard about the Alliance’s cost-cutting measures.

The Lakeside Center hockey rink is actually one of two new skating facilities that are slated to replace the antiquated Kate Wollman skating rink built back in 1960.

Planners had hoped to save some money on the outdoor covering the new hockey rink will require. But after meeting with the Blades, and conferencing with the Alliance’s Canadian consultants, Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas says she realized “we have to save money someplace else.”

“It was good that we had meetings with them,” Thomas said. “If you teach kids to play hockey [on the wrong size surface], they learn the wrong way.”

Now, instead of shrinking the hockey rink, Thomas says planners will save money on the Lakeside Center by foregoing some expensive interior granite work. Extra dollars might also be saved on designing the new drainage system, according to Thomas.

The Brooklyn Blades’ roots in Prospect Park go back at least 15 years. During hockey season, children and adults – men, women, boys and girls – allplay hockey at Prospect Park at various times throughout the week.

This year, the Brooklyn Blades say they had to turn away as many as 20 children because there simply wasn’t enough room in the youth hockey program to accommodate them.

“With this rink we’ll have time for more sessions,” the Brooklyn Blades’ Kevin Gurl said.

The new Lakeside Center is projected to cost as much as $71 million. Funding is coming from a variety of public and private sources.

Planners expect to put out $35 million in construction bids this spring. Building could start in September.

The entire project is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete.

Sadly, while the transition from the Wollman Rink to the Lakeside Center unfolds, hockey players, along with other their figure skating counterparts, might have to look elsewhere for ice time.

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