Joint venture selected by NYC parks to operate Central Park’s Wollman Rink
Wollman Park Partners, LLC commits to reinvesting profits back into Rink operations, partners, and programs
Inclusivity and accessibility a cornerstone of planned Wollman programming
NYC Parks today announced it has selected Wollman Park Partners, LLC for the operation and maintenance of Central Park’s Wollman Rink. Wollman Park Partners, LLC (WPP) has committed to reinvesting all net proceeds back into the Rink, upgrading the facility’s aging infrastructure, and offering inclusive and accessible programming. The group is a joint venture between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Related Companies, and Equinox, with official community partners including Great Performances + Melba’s Restaurant, YMCA, Ice Hockey in Harlem, Figure Skating in Harlem, The Boys’ Club of New York, and Green City Force.
NYC Parks selected the proposal through its competitive RFP process. The concessionaire would operate the facility for a five-year term, with the option of a six-month extension. A Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) public hearing will be held on July 21, 2021 at Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center regarding the intent to award a concession agreement.
Highlights of Wollman Park Partners, LLC’s bid include:
- Reinvesting in the community – WPP would not seek or accept any of the profit from operating Wollman Rink. Any net proceeds generated during the concession term would be committed to community partners, programming, and capital improvements at the licensed premises.
- Revitalizing with best-in-class sustainable practices – WPP’s capital investment will include improvements to the necessary equipment and systems (refrigeration, kitchen, ice maintenance, etc.). WPP also envisions upgrades to seating, circulation, entry/exit and landscaping, focused on sustainability and ease of upkeep.
- Creating a space for all New Yorkers – WPP would work with partners to provide equitable opportunities to visit and enjoy the space. WPP would prioritize offering community-oriented programming, introducing skating to children and families from underserved and marginalized communities, and promoting economic opportunity for diverse businesses and workers from across New York.
“It’s the Summer of New York City, but we’re already preparing for an iconic winter, too,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m thrilled that NYC Parks has found a quality operator for Wollman Rink that is committed to reinvesting in the community and creating a welcoming space for all New Yorkers.”
“Wollman Rink is one of New York City’s most iconic destinations – and thanks to Wollman Park Partners it’s on track to open again this winter,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Wollman Park Partners will enhance the rink by investing net profits into facility upgrades, on-site partnerships with community organizations, and programs that serve all New Yorkers. We thank them for their equitable vision to revitalize this beloved Central Park attraction.”
“Now is the time for New York City to think big. As we plan for our City’s future, our cultural institutions are at the forefront of imagining and revitalizing the type of urban experience we aspire to, one that’s inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all New Yorkers. That’s why Wollman Park Partners is committed to restoring Wollman Rink to a place of joy, pride and community development in the City. We are excited to work with the Parks Department and are honored to partner with some of the City’s leading community organizations to make this vision a reality,” said Josh Harris and David Blitzer, Co-Founders of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.
“Wollman Rink is a cherished New York City landmark and we are committed to partnering with local leaders and organizations that will create new economic opportunities for MWBE operators and inclusive programming for underserved communities across the City,” said Jeff T. Blau, Chief Executive Officer of Related Companies. “By reinvesting any profit from Wollman exclusively back into the facility, we’ll be able to realize our vision for this iconic destination at the heart of Central Park and ensure that it has the sustainable infrastructure and increased accessibility to welcome all New Yorkers and visitors from around the world for generations to come.”
“We could not be more excited to be a part of the revitalization of Central Park’s beloved Wollman Rink. Founded as a New York institution, Equinox is proud to partner with Wollman Park Partners and NYC Parks to increase fitness opportunities across the city,” said Harvey Spevak, Executive Chairman and Managing Partner, Equinox Group. “At Equinox, we have always believed that good fitness and good health are everyone’s right, every New Yorker deserves to have them. That’s why Wollman’s Rink is so important and we are committed to its success.”
“Food is one of the most effective ways for people of all backgrounds to connect with one another, and Wollman Park Partners has made a diverse food and beverage program a pillar of their proposal for Wollman Rink,” said Melba Wilson, Founder of Melba’s Restaurant. “We’re excited to assist Wollman Park Partners and its proposal for Wollman Rink which aims to provide a vibrant culinary experience through a range of food and beverage options.”
“Wollman Park Partners recognizes that Wollman Rink has both the opportunity and the responsibility to help New York City’s young people to learn and grow through offering after school programming, family activities and more,” said Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “As NYC’s leading community service and wellness organization, our partnership with Wollman Park Partners will help transform the rink to truly serve our City’s children and families while promoting healthy lifestyles and prioritizing their well-being.”
“As one of the only organizations in New York City providing youth programming and educational activities through ice skating, we are encouraged and delighted by Wollman Park Partners’ plan to make ice access more readily available for underserved youth,” said Sharon Cohen, Founder and CEO of Figure Skating in Harlem. “Wollman Park Partners promise to deliver diverse programming and open up Wollman Rink to New Yorkers from all boroughs is welcomed news as we strive to make New York City a more equitable place for all.”
“As New York City’s most historic, cherished skating rink, it’s crucial that the next operator goes above and beyond to make it as accessible as possible for all New Yorkers – Wollman Park Partners proposal achieves just that,” said Todd Levy, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Ice Hockey in Harlem. “Through our partnership with Wollman Park Partners, we’d be able to bring high-quality ice hockey programming to more of New York City’s youth than ever before.”
“Wollman Park Partners has the right approach with Wollman Rink, one that celebrates diversity, inclusion and accessibility. We look forward to partnering with Wollman Park Partners to hopefully deliver a diverse array of local vendors, cuisines and food options to Wollman Rink, one of the most iconic and beloved institutions our City has to offer,” said Liz Neumark, Founder of Great Performances.
For more information about Wollman Park Partners, LLC, visit their website.
Wollman Rink first opened on December 21, 1950, thanks to a gift from philanthropist Kate Wollman. Its creation continued the tradition of ice skating in Central Park, which dates back to the 1850s. Visiting Wollman Rink has since become a beloved winter activity for New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Wollman Park Partners, LLC