NYC Parks today announced it has selected Wollman Park Partners, LLC for the operation and maintenance of Central Park’s Wollman Rink. Wollman Park Partners, LLC (WPP) has committed to reinvesting all net proceeds back into the Rink, upgrading the facility’s aging infrastructure, and offering inclusive and accessible programming. The group is a joint venture between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Related Companies, and Equinox, with official community partners including Great Performances + Melba’s Restaurant, YMCA, Ice Hockey in Harlem, Figure Skating in Harlem, The Boys’ Club of New York, and Green City Force.
NYC Parks selected the proposal through its competitive RFP process. The concessionaire would operate the facility for a five-year term, with the option of a six-month extension. A Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) public hearing will be held on July 21, 2021, at Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center regarding the intent to award a concession agreement.
Highlights of Wollman Park Partners, LLC’s bid include:
- Reinvesting in the community – WPP would not seek or accept any of the profit from operating Wollman Rink. Any net proceeds generated during the concession term would be committed to community partners, programming, and capital improvements at the licensed premises.
- Revitalizing with best-in-class sustainable practices – WPP’s capital investment will include improvements to the necessary equipment and systems (refrigeration, kitchen, ice maintenance, etc.). WPP also envisions upgrades to seating, circulation, entry/exit and landscaping, focused on sustainability and ease of upkeep.
- Creating a space for all New Yorkers – WPP would work with partners to provide equitable opportunities to visit and enjoy the space. WPP would prioritize offering community-oriented programming, introducing skating to children and families from underserved and marginalized communities, and promoting economic opportunity for diverse businesses and workers from across New York.
“It’s the Summer of New York City, but we’re already preparing for an iconic winter, too,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m thrilled that NYC Parks has found a quality operator for Wollman Rink that is committed to reinvesting in the community and creating a welcoming space for all New Yorkers.”
“Food is one of the most effective ways for people of all backgrounds to connect with one another, and Wollman Park Partners has made a diverse food and beverage program a pillar of their proposal for Wollman Rink,” said Melba Wilson, Founder of Melba’s Restaurant. “We’re excited to assist Wollman Park Partners and its proposal for Wollman Rink which aims to provide a vibrant culinary experience through a range of food and beverage options.”
“As one of the only organizations in New York City providing youth programming and educational activities through ice skating, we are encouraged and delighted by Wollman Park Partners’ plan to make ice access more readily available for underserved youth,” said Sharon Cohen, Founder and CEO of Figure Skating in Harlem. “Wollman Park Partners promise to deliver diverse programming and open up Wollman Rink to New Yorkers from all boroughs is welcomed news as we strive to make New York City a more equitable place for all.”
“As New York City’s most historic, cherished skating rink, it’s crucial that the next operator goes above and beyond to make it as accessible as possible for all New Yorkers – Wollman Park Partners proposal achieves just that,” said Todd Levy, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Ice Hockey in Harlem. “Through our partnership with Wollman Park Partners, we’d be able to bring high-quality ice hockey programming to more of New York City’s youth than ever before.”
“Wollman Park Partners has the right approach with Wollman Rink, one that celebrates diversity, inclusion and accessibility. We look forward to partnering with Wollman Park Partners to hopefully deliver a diverse array of local vendors, cuisines and food options to Wollman Rink, one of the most iconic and beloved institutions our City has to offer,” said Liz Neumark, Founder of Great Performances.
Wollman Rink first opened on December 21, 1950, thanks to a gift from philanthropist Kate Wollman. Its creation continued the tradition of ice skating in Central Park, which dates back to the 1850s. Visiting Wollman Rink has since become a beloved winter activity for New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Expect the rink to open on November 14, 2021.