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Related JV tapped to replace Trump at Wollman Ice Rink

NYC Parks yestereday 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.

The deal comes after the Trump Organization was ousted from its long-held role of operator of the rink when Mayor Bill de Blasio cut the city’s business ties with the president’s company in light of his role in the January 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

NYC Parks said it selected the Related venture through its RFP process.

Related is led by Trump pal Steven Ross. Ross is buddies with Michael Rubin, part owner of the Philadelphia 76ers. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment part owns and operates the Philadelphia 76ers. Related also owns Equinox.

The group will 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.
Renderings via NYC Parks. VStudios, co-designed by Gensler and Rockwell Group

“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 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.”

Wollman Rink opened in 1950, having been proposed four years earlier. The rink was closed for renovations in late 1980 and reopened in November 1986. Following the renovation, The Trump Organization operated the rink under contract with the New York City government until 1995 and again from 2001 until 2021. The Victorian Gardens amusement park is operated by Central Amusement International, LLC, who also operates the Luna Park amusement park in Coney Island.

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