The New York Parks Department has chosen new operators for Wollman Rink, months after the mayor said the Trump Organization could no longer operate the rink.
The new operator is a joint venture between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Related Companies, and Equinox. Harris Blitzer owns the New Jersey Devils. The city says the group will upgrade the rink, which is located in Central Park around 63rd Street, and work with community organizations to open it to a broader cross-section of users. All net proceeds will be reinvested into the rink, the Parks Department said. The contract would be for five years; there will be a hearing on it on July 21 at Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center.
The Central Park Conservancy had criticized the process of selecting a new operator, and said the city should have chosen a nonprofit like the conservancy.
“As the primary caretakers of Central Park, the Central Park Conservancy remains committed to working in collaboration with our City partners and with their concessionaires to make sure the Park is a beautiful, clean, and welcoming community space for all Park visitors,“ the conservancy said in a statement after the announcement of the new operator.
The Trump Organization lost the concession because Mayor de Blasio accused Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and said the city didn’t want to do business with him anymore. Others, including Council member Mark Levine, had been pushing for Trump to lose the concession beforehand.
The fight over the concession nearly derailed the skating season, after the Trump Organization said it was locked out. The city ended up extending the contract until the end of the season.
Although Trump is leaving, some of the new owners have been linked to him in the past. Stephen Ross, the chairman and founder of Related, which owns Equinox, was previously criticized for raising money for Trump.
Lasker Rink, at the northern end of the park, is being reconstructed, and won’t be open this coming winter. It had also been operated by the Trump Organization.
The concession for the famed Carousel in Central Park, also formerly operated by Trump’s business, is expected to be awarded to Central Amusement International. Thanks to Upper West sider for the tip.