Wollman Rink Announces Reopening Date, as a ‘Partner’ Talks About Food and a More-Inclusive Mission

A rendering of the updated rink, which opens next month.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Wollman Rink, the storied ice skating rink at the southern end of Central Park, is scheduled to reopen on November 14, a spokesperson for the rink’s new concessionaire told WSR. “Opening day will offer a ‘free skate’ for the public,” he revealed.

Wollman will no longer be operated by The Trump Organization, which lost the contract in the wake of Donald Trump’s alleged incitement of the January 6 insurrection. In July, a group called the Wollman Park Partners LLC (WPP) won a new contract in a competitive bidding process, edging out the Central Park Conservancy, which some, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, thought was a better choice. WPP is a joint venture between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils, and the Related Companies and Equinox.

It doesn’t get more corporate than that, but WPP emphasizes that it is nonprofit, in the sense that “it is not seeking or accepting any of the profit from operating Wollman Rink. Any net proceeds generated during the concession term will be reinvested in the facility and through community partners providing services at Wollman Rink,” a release said.

The Cafe.

Liz Neumark, founder of the catering company, Great Performances, calls herself “the food and beverage partner.” She will be curating those key elements for the rink’s cafe. For those expressing concern, yes, there will be burgers ($6), grilled cheese ($4), “high-quality” hot dogs ($3), vegan hot dogs ($3.50), and tacos ($4). “We’d be killed if we weren’t affordable,” she said, in a phone interview. “Chicken nuggets aren’t on the menu yet, but they will be.” Neumark said she will “deliberately source from local, women and minority-owned small businesses.” The culinary offerings will be updated over time, she added.

“My mission is to serve delicious and affordable food, and to use Wollman as a platform for small businesses that typically get left out of large-scale concessions,” Neumark explained. “WPP has made diversity and inclusion one of its main pillars and that’s why I’m delighted to be involved.” Another reason might be that she grew up on the Upper West Side, skating with her two sisters at Wollman Rink, on winter weekends. “We will offer a diverse array of local vendors and businesses from the five boroughs to ensure a true representation of New York City’s incredible spectrum of delicious food and beverages,” she concluded. One vendor will be Community Partner Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem.

“We’d be killed if we weren’t affordable!”

Other community partners include the YMCA, Ice Hockey in Harlem, Figure Skating in Harlem, The Boys’ Club of New York, and Green City Force. The clients of these nonprofits, will get free access to introductory programs and ice time. “We are refining our programming to be inclusive and accessible to all, and are finalizing some ideas, which might include a Tuesday afternoon pay-as-you wish model and a Wednesday afterschool special that bundles admission + skates + hot chocolate,” the spokesperson said.

What about the regular price of admission, skate rentals and lockers? Here they are for the 2021-22 season. (Pardon the presentation. We cut and pasted from the WPP contract.)

 

WPP also announced that the concession agreement has been finalized, but that seems moot, since they said redevelopment and construction are already underway. The contract runs for five years. They named Stefanie Tomlin as the rink’s new Vice President and General Manager to oversee operations and guide long-term strategic growth. Tomlin joins with more than ten years of extensive experience. Most recently, she served as the General Manager of Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

“The second I learned about WPP’s plans for Wollman Rink I knew I had to become involved to support one of the City’s most historic destinations,” she said.

WPP is hiring for multiple positions. Interested applicants can apply here.

    1. Leon says:

      It sounds like they are trying their best to make it accessible, reasonably priced and nice while maintaining adequate staffing and paying a decent wage.

      No matter what they do, I’m sure plenty of my fellow UWSers will find something to complain about.

      • g says:

        gail brewer.

        • C. Kerr Uvtrooth says:

          What is it about Ms. Brewer that you dislike? Ms. Brewer has been a dedicated public servant for the past 46 years, serving on the City Council, Community Board Seven, and as Manhattan Borough President. There is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to her accomplishments.
          B/T/W: I do NOT personally know Ms. Brewer nor am I in any connected with her. But I DO respect the work that she, and other UWSers like Congressman Nadler and City Comptroller Singer do for us all.

      • nemo paradise says:

        “Sounds like” is exactly right. Now let’s see what actually happens. Press releases are easy to write; action is somewhat harder. Ask any voter.

    2. Upper Westside mom says:

      So my kid is 12, they will charge for $23 on the weekend? That’s absurd! They should increase the age for youth to18 at least or have something in between adult and kid tickets. No youths could afford that price!

      • Huh says:

        How much do movie theaters charge for 12+? I really don’t know.

      • Big Earl says:

        Easy life hack fix: For the next two winters at the rink, your kid is 11. You’re welcome 🙂

      • Ll says:

        How does this compare to the prices when Wollman was run by the Trump Organization? I am curious. Aside from that I think pay as you wish one day a week seems like a wonderful idea

        • Charles says:

          Ticket prices were $4.50 (up from $2.50) when the Trump Organization originally held the concession beginning in 1986.

          In the early 70’s it was 25 cents for a two hour session at the rink which really makes you think:

          At the same time the MTA fare was 35 cents which included a transfer.

          The bus fare has only risen to $2.75 which is still quite economical and the MTA has many more moving parts than an ice rink.

          Interesting pricing structures for ice!

    3. John says:

      I think I will skip it sounds like they will be catering to Tourist.

    4. NYNative says:

      That puts you at about $110 for a family of 4 with skates and a locker on a weekend, before food.

      Feels like a lot, but probably on par with a movie, museum, or other comparable activities.

    5. Jay says:

      Related Companies?

      Ross the guy who runs Related is a friend of DJT.

      The companies listed have no experience running a public ice rink.

      And Ross/Related are tied to the big welfare for the very rich project called Hudson Yards, which ironically may open an outdoor ice rink at some point in the future.

      “good” choice.

      However imperfect, the company that runs World Ice in Flushing Meadows/Corona park would have been a much better choice.

    6. Laura says:

      Will you be offering freestyle sessions?

    7. MAutumn says:

      I’ve got 4 kids – it will cost us $150 to go ice skating here with skate rentals. The youth age should definitely be changed to under 18 (a 12 year old is not an adult) Unfortunately it’s a hard pass for this UWS family.

    8. Anon says:

      Prices last year:
      $12, children 11 and under $6; Fri–Sun and holidays $19, children 11 and under $6; skate rental $9. Cash only.

      https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/central-park-wollman-rink

      • Erica Bustamante says:

        Yes!! So expensive now and the economy is going worse. For a family of 4 more than 100 is so much.

    9. Melissa Hurwitz says:

      Disappointing. Harris Blitzer is tied to the Kushners and Equinox is tied to Trump. The city screwed up on this one. I still won’t go there.

    10. BARBARA MILLER says:

      WILL THW RINK ALSO HAVE ROLLER SKATING IN THE SPRING AND SUMMER?

    11. sg says:

      DJT did not in incite the January 6th incident. Calling it an “insurrection” is ridiculous…the only death was of an unarmed woman by a DC cop. Shameful. The BLM/Antifa rioting throughout last summer was the real civil disruption.

    12. Nevets K says:

      I must repeat from a previous comment about Wollman:
      Their rental skates are awful. No matter how much you are paying, or even going for free, if you rent their awful plastic mold skates, your experience will be terrible and painful. A true upgrade will be the purchase of hundreds of leather (comfortable!) figure and hockey skates, regularly sharpened.
      I’d be pleased to hear a response from the new management on this.

      • Duh says:

        It’s much easier to sanitize plastic skates.

        • Nevets K says:

          Long long before the Covid crisis, their skates were molded plastic and terrible. It’s “a tradition” there: to have renters pay, then suffer.

          • Duh says:

            I’m not talking about sanitizing for Covid. Shared footwear needs to be sanitized.
            Though it’s not always practical for growing kids, the obvious solution is to to buy and bring your own skates. I used to do that.

      • anon says:

        Is there any reason to think the new management will be using the old Wollman skates?

    13. chuck d says:

      I just hope they’ll get rid of the Victorian Gardens nightmare adventure carnival in the summer. Replace it with roller skating and music.