Wollman Rink’s New Prices Criticized By Local Leaders; ‘What Will a Hot Dog Cost’?

A rendering of the new Wollman Rink under WPP. Credit VStudios co-designed by Gensler and Rockwell Group.

By Carol Tannenhauser

It was never a bargain to skate at Wollman Rink, the iconic ice skating rink at the southern end of Central Park. When the Trump Organization ran it — before it was wrested from the former president’s company as a result of his alleged part in the January 6th insurrection — it cost a family of two adults and two children, $100 for admission and to rent skates and lockers on a weekend  — and that doesn’t include food or drinks.

In November, when the rink will hopefully reopen, it’s going to get even more expensive. Some prices at Wollman Rink are set to rise under the new concessionaire chosen to renovate and run it for the next five years, according to a document compiled by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office. That hypothetical family of four will now pay $116.

Wollman Park Partners, LLC (WPP) is the entity that was awarded the Wollman contract on July 6th. It is composed of The Related Companies, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (a New Jersey-based agency that owns the New Jersey Devils and Philadephia Flyers), and Equinox, partly owned by Related. A spokesperson for WPP contends that the increases in price are limited to adults, and will pay for costly renovations and reduced or free admission for first responders, nonprofits, and low-income groups.

“This is a non-profit endeavor with the goal of upgrading Wollman Rink and making it accessible to all of New York in a way that it hasn’t been previously,” said a spokesperson for WPP. “The rink requires significant investment to modernize and upgrade. We have kept pricing the same for children and seniors, while introducing new discounts for first responders and our community partners. We have proposed a small increase in the adult admission, which will then allow us to provide free or low-cost programming to non-profit groups and youth who would not otherwise be able to have access to the facility. This is about creating a pricing structure that achieves accessibility, allows for long overdue upgrades to the site, and serves New Yorkers from all walks of life.”

Following are price comparisons between the Trump-run rink and what WPP proposes. (We apologize for the poor quality of the reproduction.) It shows other price increases, including for skate and locker rentals and groups. Testifying at a public hearing before the Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) on July 21st,  Brewer said, “I do not consider these prices to be affordable.”

Via Gale Brewer’s office.

In addition to skating fees, Comptroller Scott Stringer questioned the potential cost of food and drinks under WPP in a letter to the FCRC.

“The Agreement does not allow for the City or the public to understand the total cost of a visit to this location, such as the cost of food and beverages,” he wrote. “A sample menu was included in its proposal but was not included in this Agreement. If prices are not included in this Agreement, the City cannot hold the contractor accountable over the five-year contract, making it imperative that fair and reasonable prices are locked before the contract is finalized.”

Brewer also called for clarification of the percentage of hours that will be devoted to private events and “buyouts,” which would restrict use of the rink to the public. She stressed “the importance in limiting the number of events that would prohibit the public from accessing this new space,” and called for “a hard cap on these types of large scale events. Wollman Rink is a public asset and should remain accessible to the public, so this cap on restrictions to the public is a necessity,” she said.

Brewer stated upfront that her choice for concessionaire was the Central Park Conservancy. “For decades, the Central Park Conservancy has been the steward of Central Park, taking care of all maintenance and operational needs and has the experience and history to be the best operator of Wollman Rink,” she said. She cited WPP’s lack of experience, pointing out that it had only been formed on June 9th, 2021, and “could not possibly have any operational experience of any sort.”

Another rendering of the new Wollman Rink.

Brewer called for the Central Park Conservatory to assume control of Wollman Rink in five years, after the WPP contract runs out.

The contract was awarded to WPP by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which stood by their choice.

”Wollman Park Partners’ standout qualities include their commitment to community partners, programming, and capital improvements for the immediate future as operator of Wollman Rink—promising not to take profit and instead invest in the park and the community,” a Parks spokesperson said. “We will work with Wollman Park Partners throughout the term of their agreement to ensure that the concession is accessible and affordable.”

 

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 48 comments | permalink
    1. Huh says:

      Prices are high but I don’t get all the hand wringing.
      A private company was sought out. They still need to make money even if the city doesn’t take a cut which would have made prices even higher. It’s an expensive and complicated site to maintain and run but it only generates income for a few months a year.
      I don’t care about concession prices because it’s in a park with many nearby options and I’m sure you’ll be allowed to bring in your own water. You go skating for an hour or two so having access to food is nice and can add to the fun but isn’t essential.
      When it was genuinely cheap to go there, it was run down.
      If we want truly free public sports, we need a totally different funding model.

    2. lynn says:

      In 1993 I took 2-3 kids to skate at Wollman Rink every Saturday for approx 6 weeks. They had their own skates and I only remember paying for the food/drinks. I definitely wasn’t paying close to $100 for anything. Does anyone remember what the pricing was like in the 90’s? Just curious.

      • Elsa says:

        Hi Lynn, so spectators didn’t have to pay, and if memory serves me right it was like $5 admission if you had your own skates. I used to go every Friday after school with my dad and friends. Such great memories

      • ej says:

        3 dollars to skate in 1980s early 90s

    3. Anthony says:

      Since the Upper West Side is all rich liberals anyway does it matter? The same rich liberals who protest homeless shelters. I’m sure they can afford it.

      And don’t these Manhattan liberal snobs prefer to eat fancy food anyway? Why would they eat commoner food like hot dogs?

      • Anonymous says:

        WSR moderators prefer to publish empty/angry comments like this but censor 90% of what I write about the decaying quality of life in our neighborhood (which, yes, includes affordability issues too). It speaks volumes

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Guess you’re not an “Upper West Sider” which begs the question: why are you here? To post snarky comments that clearly are not appreciated?

    4. Brandon says:

      Will they take credit cards or be a cash only operation like it was under Trunp?

    5. Tom says:

      Zero money to Trump, priceless. 😎

    6. Bill says:

      Has the Comptrollers office ever blocked a potential contract? Went right along with a 30 plus year contract with ACC to run the animal shelters. Odd that Central Park Cons not chosen as the logical operator.

    7. Nevets K says:

      The great rip off at Wollman has always been the horrible rental skates. Bring your own or don’t bother going – as you won’t be skating but suffering.

    8. Sideshow Bobb says:

      ” We have proposed a small increase in the adult admission, which will then allow us to provide free or low-cost programming to non-profit groups and youth who would not otherwise be able to have access to the facility. This is about creating a pricing structure that achieves accessibility, allows for long overdue upgrades to the site, and serves New Yorkers from all walks of life.”

      What this city needs is more ‘affordable skating’!

      How can ALL children experience life equally unless ALL children can skate affordably? And free concessions for the hungry!

      How can anything less be morally countenanced?

      • Brandon says:

        They are partnering with Ice Hockey in Harlem and Figure Skating in Harlem which are both displaced for 3 years while Lasker Rink is redesigned. I’m not familiar with the figure skating but Ice Hockey in Harlem does more than teach kids to play hockey (for no cost). They also provide year round academic supports. I believe Wollman is also giving time to North Starts Hocket for SN kids up to age 21.

        These are organizations worth supporting by paying a few extra dollars to skate.

        • Sideshow Bobb says:

          “…but Ice Hockey in Harlem does more than teach kids to play hockey (for no cost)

          These are organizations worth supporting by paying a few extra dollars to skate.”

          Pass. Hard pass.

          That which has no cost, has no value.

          And the price increase is actually a hidden tax on everyday patrons, most of whom are not ‘Rockefellers’.

          Let WILLING donors fund these supposedly ‘worthwhile’ programs, rather than underhandedly taxing people who themselves struggle to pay the cost of admission.

          • Anon says:

            But that is exactly what happens. You don’t want to pay their rates, you don’t go. It isn’t a tax if you can simply choose not to participate.

            • Sideshow Bobb says:

              Again, ALL children (and adults too) deserve to skate affordably. Not just certain entitled or privileged groups. This kind of tax is the intersection of entitlement and privilege.

              Prediction: This scam will fail, and the rink will revert to some Trumpian shyster.

    9. blacklikeu says:

      Ya mean to say it was less expensive when Trump & co. ran the joint?
      Really?
      Can it be that ANYTHING that was run by the orange was cheaper and possibly better?

    10. Biden for life says:

      I am willing to pay twice as much as long as Trump has nothing to do with it

      • bidenot says:

        And you are paying twice as much for many items.
        Since Biden is in:
        Gas up 40%
        Lumber up 290%
        Food up 25%
        Used cars up 55%
        Nice going “middle class” Joe.
        Real nice!

        • Carlos says:

          Most of those cost increases were temporary and have since resolved. Secondly, they are due to Covid. If Trump had acted like a real president and orchestrated a coordinated response to covid rather than turning it into another political drama, the impact of covid would have been much less.

          But Trump was Trump. And we are suffering for it. Now please turn off Fox News and return to the real world.

          • bidenot says:

            Hi Carlos,
            The day you turn off CNN & MSNBC, that’s the day I will turn off these two as well.
            I watch ALL networks, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
            If you really think that Trump is the answer to why inflation is biting our pockets big time, well, go ahead and think so.
            But – if you think that printing six TRILLION dollars with zero backing to it, is not helping the prices to go way up – then I suggest you take economics 101 again.
            And, “the cost increases were temporary and have since resolved” (as you stated) have NOT been resolved nor have the prices gone down. They’ll only go up, as long as people have their heads stuck in the sand, refusing to admit what the economy is telling us.
            So, enjoy the ride.
            It’s gonna be a long & rough one.

            • Carlos says:

              How is that orange-flavored Trump kool-aid tasting?

              Biden is trying to stimulate the economy. Same way that Trump did last year. I admit he has gone a bit far, but not dramatically too far. During his presidency, Trump implemented tax cuts for his buddies with no off-setting revenue sources. Even pre-covid our deficit was huge thanks to him.

              Here’s the price of lumber – after a peak, now below where it was on January 20. I’m sure Fox News isn’t telling you this (my source is the markets, not a news channel).

              https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/commodities/lbs

            • Brandon says:

              Your numbers are wrong, so it’s hard to take you seriously.

              Food costs, for example, have not increased 25% since January, and it’s just flat-out incorrect to say they have.

              The $6 trillion in spending is, as best I can gather, a reference to the various covid relief packages that have been enacted since March 2020. But as that date suggests, the majority of this spending was authorized under Trump, not Biden, and was well worth it anyway.

              Please stop spreading misinformation.

          • SadforUWS says:

            “Most of those cost increases were temporary and have since resolved”. Really? Have you been to a supermarket lately? Gas station? Home Depot? They seem to have missed your positive news.

        • DavidS says:

          You’re a bit fuzzy on that whole “supply and demand” thing, I see.

        • Ish Kabibble says:

          First, you numbers are way off. Second, those increases are a directly result of the shoddy way the Pandemic was handled initially. Thirdly, 99% of academics AND economists agree that the price increases we are seeing is in part due to the economic recovery that has driven up demand, and as a consequence, prices. So yes, Thank you President Biden!

          And finally, 99% is not accurate either, but likely far closer than some of your numbers.

          • babrarus says:

            Ya need to remember to take your memory pills.
            Seems as if your numbers all all jumbled up.
            99%, or maybe 99.9%, or maybe 12%.
            After all, what’s a few more TRILLIONS of $$$ between us?

    11. S.L. says:

      $23 to ice skate ?? these are Rockefeller Center prices. I stopped skating at Wollman years ago when they began dividing the rink to allow ice hockey right next to ice skaters, I got hit in the leg with a wayward hockey puck and never went back. I hope the new organizers have separate sessions for hockey instead of dividing the ice .

    12. Chuck d says:

      All for this, and as long I don’t have to buy Trump Water for $6 a bottle, I’m cool with it. Let the upgrades begin.

    13. Thomas Sills says:

      It must be remembered there would be no Wollman Rink without the Orangeman. He did in 2 months what New York City crooked bureaucrats could not do for 8 years and after millions of dollars were pocketed.

    14. Frank Grimes says:

      FWIW, I can’t think of anything a family of four can do in NYC that costs less than $116. A movie ticket is $20+ , a Broadway show ticket is $150+.I bet you couldn’t rent a bowling alley for an hour for less. ..why are local politicians up in arms about this? Do they somehow feel ice skating should be subsidized by the government? NYC is an expensive place to live and play.

    15. tailfins says:

      Harris Blitzer run the Prudential Center in Newark and the practice rink next door (which has a bunch of community programming), so they do have rink operations experience.

      The Conservancy, meanwhile, has no experience and is tearing down Lasker to replace it with their “capstone” project. It’s a project that feeds their ego and shoehorns in community needs. They’ll take what’s been two rinks with a huge amount of youth programming and replace it with one large rink. They see no issue with that – they feel the rink can just be divided for multiple concurrent uses. That alone should tell you all you need to know about the Conservancy’s fitness to run these facilities.

    16. denton says:

      “She cited WPP’s lack of experience, pointing out that it had only been formed on June 9th, 2021, and “could not possibly have any operational experience of any sort.”

      Do you really think Related, who runs all kinds of massive real estate projects around the world, including Hudson Yards, doesn’t have ‘operational experience’? C’mon Gail.

    17. Victor Dian says:

      I remember as child it was ten cents before noon and twenty five cents afternoon….but subway was only a dime also

    18. Bridget Russo says:

      The Related Companies is owned by Stephen Ross a Trump supporter.

    19. Jane says:

      Non-profit? Hah! What are the owners making!

    20. Mom says:

      What about children’s group lessons, which during covid, was the only thing my kids looked forward to all week? Outdoors, safe, and fun.
      Now how much???

    21. HGF says:

      I’m sure, if the Trump organization still ran Wollman Rink the prices for the coming season would not be increasing.
      Thank you Mr. Mayor

    22. Ian Alterman says:

      Why the complaining? It costs that much for a family of four to go see a movie, sometimes not even including all of the concession items they buy. And both experiences take about the same amount of time.

      Museums are also $20/pp or more (except the few that are (sometimes) pay-as-you-wish), so that’s also $80-$100 for four.

      And don’t get me started on Broadway shows, where tickets can be upwards of $200 and $300.

      EVERYTHING is expensive in NYC. If you want things cheaper, move somewhere else.

    23. Stu says:

      This doesnt shock me. Wollman rink long ago evolved into a slightly expensive entertainment option for tourists and folks willing and able to pay the price. The tickets are on par with other entertainment options. If you want to get your skate on for free or cheap, there are other options in/around NYC that don’t have the Central Park cache.