Aviator Sports Complex is closed indefinitely as a result of the shutdown of the federal government, which shuttered all national parks — including Gateway National Recreation Area, where Aviator is located.
Staff at the entertainment complex only learned of the closureTuesday morning when they came into work that they, along with all other concessionaires with Gateway National Park Service, would be closed along with Floyd Bennett Field, according to Aviator spokeswoman Jaclyn Muns.
“We had no idea,” said Muns. “Our owner and [Aviator’s Chief Operating Officer Dean] Rivera were talking with Gateway National Parks yesterday, and they weren’t giving us a solid answer. I don’t think they really knew. And this morning, they sent a Park Service representative into the facility, and they said they were going to have to close the gates and all the other concessionaires.”
Aviator employees worked long enough to ensure that all persons affiliated with events being held there were notified of Tuesday’s cancellations, including the 35 families enrolled in Aviator’s after-school program, which shuttles students from PS 193, PS 236, PS 277, and PS 312 to Aviator for help with homework, along with snacks and games.
Rivera and certain members of Aviator’s operations staff were given permission to stay at Aviator to maintain the facility and, among other things, make sure the ice doesn’t melt on the skating rinks there.
All other non-essential staff, however, were forced to leave by 3 pm in order to comply with the conditions of the federal government shutdown.
Non-essential functions federal government shut down at midnight Oct. 1, when Congress failed to pass a resolution funding its operations. National parks, museums, monuments and the National Zoo are all affected, along with certain functions of federal agencies serving veterans, conducting food inspections and those seeking federally backed mortgages, among others.
Floyd Bennett Field will remain staffed with employees dubbed essential personnel, including park rangers and police, who will be on hand to escort out campers who remain inside park two days into the shutdown.
Aviator is offering refunds for any events that are cancelled as a result of the shutdown — except in certain cases, like sports practices, where make-up dates can be arranged, according to Muns. But any refunds likely won’t be processed until the sports complex is back in operation.
There’s no telling at this point how long the government shutdown — and thus Aviator’s closing — will last. The last time it happened was in 1996, when the shutdown lasted for 27 days. As a result, the folks at Aviator can’t predict how many events will be canceled before the lawmakers on Capitol Hill come to an agreement.
“It’s difficult,” said Muns. “We don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
The following events are scheduled at Aviator for later this month, but may be canceled if the federal shutdown persists.
• Oct. 6: 2013 Everything Kids Expo
• Oct. 12–13: R.O.C. Race – Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge
• Oct. 19: 1st Annual Oktoberfest
• Oct. 26: Run For Your Lives 5k Race
• Oct. 26: Halloween Costume Party