On Dec. 10, 2013, the New York City Council approved plans for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) to occupy the Kingsbridge Armory space in the Bronx. The complex, as proposed, will be, upon completion in 2017, the world's largest indoor ice center. The nearly unanimous vote capped three years of efforts by KNIC Partners, led by Kevin Parker, former global head of asset management at Deutsche Bank, and CEO Mark Messier. The success of the venture, the "alignment of the planets and stars" as Parker calls it, was the culmination of thousands of hours of research and planning. It also involved a healthy dose of community cooperation and, curiously, a bus trip to Philadelphia.
Kevin Parker had an ice problem.
A hockey dad living in the middle of New York City, Parker's two boys, then 8 and 10, had graduated from Pee Wee hockey and were in search of a stiffer challenge. So the Parkers searched, and searched, eventually only finding competitive hockey some 45 miles from their home, traveling to Mennen Arena in Morristown, N.J., and Stamford Twin Rinks in Stamford, Conn. The shorter of those two trips, to Stanford, is 34 miles from midtown Manhattan.
"That just made the situation seem even crazier to me, that if you love hockey and want to play hockey growing up in New York City, you have to travel 35 or 45 miles to go play," Parker said. "So I asked the question: 'Why are there no ice sports? No ice surfaces in New York City?'"
It's a common question among hockey families, school programs and city leagues, and especially pertinent this week. How, in a city that will host two 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games featuring the three metro-area NHL teams during the next week, can there be almost no year-round ice to be found?