On Nov. 9, executives from Madison Square Garden and Aviator Sports and Recreation announced a partnership that will open up a world of sports, and in particular hockey, to residents of the New York area.
MSG is now part of the ownership group of Aviator Sports and Recreation, LLC -- a recently-opened 170,000 square foot mega-sports complex that includes two NHL regulation-size indoor ice rinks, an indoor field house, a gymnastics and dance center, a fitness center. The massive facility, which is larger than Central Park, is located at Floyd Bennett Field off Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and is the borough's first state-of-the-art sports and recreation complex.
Aviator Sports and Recreation is housed in four restored airplane hangars and was specifically designed to preserve the building's historic structures under the auspices of the National Parks Service. In addition to its sports facilitites, the complex boasts an 8,000-square-foot food court called "The Brooklyn Food Hall of Fame."
"Madison Square Garden may reside in Manhattan -- but we have always appreciated that a tremendous percentage of our fanbase lives in Brooklyn and Queens," said Steve Mills, president and COO, MSG Sports. "We were thrilled to have the opportunity to invest in Aviator Sports and Recreation, a truly world-class facility unlike any in the area, which will allow us to bring the power and programming of our company directly to the community in an unprecedented way."
Hockey fans and players visiting the complex will be treated to the only twin indoor NHL-sized ice sheets in New York City. The hockey facilities come fully equipped with locker rooms, docks for ice resurfaces and seating for more than 2,300 spectators. The rinks will be home to youth and adult leagues, clinics, camps, tournaments, pick-up games and more.
"It's a state-of-the-art facility where not only boys and girls, but families -- moms and dads, aunts and uncles -- can come and enjoy themselves and appreciate what it has to offer," said Rangers great Adam Graves. "From mountain climbing to soccer to lacrosse to hockey to gymnastics to basketball, it's just a fantastic facility and one in which I think there will be a lot of smiles for a long time."
Graves was joined at the Nov. 9 event by fellow Rangers alumnus Rod Gilbert and current team member Jed Ortmeyer. The Blueshirts plan to hold some of their youth hockey clinics at the Aviator facility, and to set the tone, Gilbert, Graves and Ortmeyer hit the ice with local youngsters for a sneak preview of things to come.
Joined by his mom, at the event,8-year-old Tommy Laible said he was thrilled to take the ice with his hockey heroes.
"I got to play with the Rangers!" Tommy exclaimed. "It was cool to skate with them. My favorite part was with Adam because he taught me a lot of stuff."
While these young skaters enjoyed got their biggest thrill from being around the Rangers, teen hockey players were equally in awe of the complex.
"It's a very nice facility," said Joseph Esposito, 14. "I really like it a lot. The ice is very good. It's not choppy. There's also a lot of other stuff here that is really cool!"
The quality of the complex in addition to its location prompted Madison Square Garden to join the ownership group.
"Madison Square Garden is entering a period of significant growth, in which we are seeking opportunities that leverage our unrivaled assets and extend the power and presence of MSG beyond its traditional location and into this community," said Hank J. Ratner, vice chairman, Madison Square Garden. "As New York's premier sports and media company, we can bring tremendous value to partners, such as Aviator Sports and Recreation, that want to be associated with the unique strength and reach of Madison Square Garden."
MSG's involvement in Aviator Sports and Recreation includes both a financial investment and a broad commitment to implementing team programming in the facility, including hosting youth ice hockey and basketball camps and scheduling appearances from current and former athletes.
"A huge part of the Rangers' great support and a huge part of our organization is based in Brooklyn ,Queens and Staten Island," said Graves. "To have this out here, and with our clinics and hockey schools to just be a part of the community on and off the ice here, is special. It's always been something that we have done off the ice, and now we can do on the ice. I think it's a special opportunity and one that everyone will enjoy."