When Flyers chairman Ed Snider talks about his youth hockey foundation, he is truly passionate.
Sure, it’s easy to put your name on a non-profit organization and put a positive spin on anything that the foundation is involved in.
But for Snider, it’s so much more than that.
Consider what he did Tuesday, when he took time out of his always hectic schedule to stop by the renovation site of the Tarken Ice Rink in Northeast Philadelphia, the fourth in a stable of city rinks to be remodeled and updated for full-time use by Snider Hockey.
He wasn’t just taking a tour either. He weighed in on the cleanliness of the snack bar, the color scheme of the walls and the locker rooms, and the overall state of the construction, which is slated for a ribbon cutting Nov. 9.
“It’s an exciting day,” Snider said. “We took the rinks (like Tarken) that were dilapidated and made them state-of-the-art modern rinks and we’re still developing the programs to run in these rinks. They used-to-be indoor-outdoor rinks and we would only be able to be in here from November to March, but now we can have these kids off the streets 365 days a year.”
Tarken is the fourth city rink to be renovated as part of a $13 million restoration project that was equally funded by private donors and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
The other rinks are the Laura Sims Skatehouse in West Philadelphia, Scanlon Ice Rink in the Kensington section of the city, and the Simons Rink in West Oak Lane.
But this is just the start for Snider Hockey.
“The more rinks we can get in the program the better off we’ll be,” Snider said. “We’ll keep expanding. We want to reach out into the Greater Philadelphia region. We’re already working in Camden and Pennsauken and we want to be in Chester and eventually in Allentown. But we are doing an awful lot and we have to grow slowly so we make sure we have the right people and the right programs that can carry out everything we plan. We serve 3,000 kids now, but our goal is 10,000.”
Snider Hockey president Scott Tharp confirmed that Snider Hockey has already looked at some possible locations to expand their reach.
“Our purpose is to provide services to children, youth and families in neighborhoods that wouldn’t usually have these opportunities available to them," he said. "We’re looking in the Camden area and the Chester-Upland area where such constituencies live. We’re exploring.
“We have a strategic plan in place and we want to expand, but we’re also very cognizant that we don’t want to focus on the breadth of our program if it sacrifices the depth of what we do.
"We have kids who come to us six or seven times a week. We don’t ever want to say to those kids or their families that because we want to add more numbers elsewhere we need the cut back on their frequency. If they’re coming six or seven times a week it’s because they need us six or seven times a week.”