Sports Mega-plex Plans Unveiled
If that old saying, "good things come to those who wait," is true, then local sports enthusiasts must have been waiting for a long, long time.
The plans for Floyd Bennett Field’s $15 million family sports complex were revealed to the public for the first time, this week, and the design is likely to impress hockey, basketball, volleyball, football, and soccer players, ice skaters, and just about everybody else as well.
There will be state-of-the-art hockey and skating rinks, six full size basketball and volleyball courts, "extensive" football and soccer fields, a "full service" gym with a climbing wall, game and party rooms, food courts, a pro shop, and locker rooms.
And there’s more good news — according to the contractors, light preliminary work has already begun. According to Congressman Anthony Weiner’s office heavy construction is expected to begin on August 1, and to finish by the fall of 2005.
Weiner arrived at this week’s unveiling carrying a big sport equipment bag and hockey sticks on his shoulder, "I won’t have to schlep to Chelsea," he said, referring to Manhattan’s huge West Side pier sports complex.
Local reaction to the plan seems positive.
"It’s going to make a lot of money," said Rockaway resident Mike Taggart, who is also an Ice Maintenance Engineer at Iceland Skating Rink in New Hyde Park.
Officials say that when at full capacity, Floyd Bennett’s sports complex could make $5 million annually.
Taggart said a facility with an NHL sized hockey rink alone is uncommon and that it will draw from several surrounding neighborhoods.
James Giannios, another Rockaway resident, said he’s "tired of going to Long Beach." Giannios, who regularly plays hockey with friends, said he has heard talk about a sports-plex, and would like to finally see some construction. He said he and his friends started playing in the Beach 109 Street park near P.S. 225, then moved up the block when the Rockaway Skating Rink opened. Giannios said he and his friends would be much happier making the shorter trip just over the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. In April, Aviator Sports, based in New York City, was awarded a 20-year concessionaire contract from Gateway National Park. Bidding had been opened in May of 2001. According to officials, only two "serious" proposals were entered.
Aviator Sports General Manager Joseph Monetti thanked Weiner, at the unveiling, for helping to make the complex to become a reality. Weiner called it a "classic private/public partnership."
The family sports complex will be housed in Floyd Bennett’s deteriorated aircraft hangars, numbers five through eight, and will measure approximately 40,000 square feet.
Floyd Bennett Field was built between 1928 and 1931, and was the city’s first municipal airport. It was an important asset to the Navy during World War II, and was decommissioned in the early 1970s.