Update Jan 3, 2012: Here are details about skating at the ESP rink.
Update Dec 14, 2011: OGS says it's aiming to open the rink the first week of January -- and skates will be available for renting (it will be free to skate).
The state Office of General Services announced over the weekend that the ice skating rink will be returning to the Empire State Plaza this winter. The ESP has been rinkless since the winter of 2007-08 because of budget cuts. (Full press release pasted after jump.)
OGS says it's aiming for an early January opening. The rink will be open afternoon and evenings, 7 days a week. Skating will be free. The exact date and operation times are still being worked out. (Also: some colder weather might speed things along.)
The rink's comeback is being funded in part by a $100,000 contribution Lake Placid Regional Winter Sports Committee, which is a "non-profit focused on supporting and developing Upstate New York as a sport destination for international and national winter sport events."
In the grand scheme of things, the skating rink isn't a big thing. But the news a few years back that it wasn't coming back because of budget cuts was a bit of a "gulp" moment about the economy and state budget. And there's just something beautiful about the scene created by people skating on the ESP. It's great the rink will be back.
If you've never seen the ESP rink -- or just want to remember what it looks like -- a few more photos from early 2008 are after the jump.
There are a handful of large-format photos at the top -- scroll all the way up.
Empire State Plaza ice rink to open in January by New York State Office of General Services
ALBANY, NY (12/04/2011)(readMedia)-- Commissioner RoAnn Destito today announced that the Empire State Plaza ice rink will open to the public for the first time since 2007. The popular outdoor rink will open in early January and is anticipated to remain open for the remainder of the winter. The rink will be open in the afternoons and evenings, 7 days per week, and skating will be free.
The New York State Office of General Services (OGS) and Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) are partnering with the Lake Placid Regional Winter Sports Committee, a 501C3 corporation, who will underwrite the ice rink operations by contributing $100,000 for the 2012 winter season. The funds will support the mission of the organization to enhance New York State's economy, quality of life, image and development of regional, national and international sports and will be used at the Empire State Plaza to sponsor skating clinics for inner-city youth to promote an active lifestyle and as a recruitment tool for potential world-class athletes. Funding will also be used to attract visitors to events and activities in the Lake Placid region including world-class bobsledding, professional figure skating, the Empire State Games, and skiing and snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain.
"We are thrilled to bring skating back to the Plaza. Because our new partners in Lake Placid offer some of the best winter activities in the state, they are the perfect complement to the ice rink," Commissioner Destito said. "Families and visitors to the Capitol Region will once again have an opportunity to skate on one of the most unique outdoor facilities in the state."
"ORDA is excited to team up with the Sports Committee to bring skating back to the plaza. Skating is a terrific family activity and it's great that families and people of all ages will have the chance to skate again in this beautiful complex," Ted Blazer, ORDA president and CEO, said.
The ice rink originally opened on December 17, 1976, when the Office of General Services held the first holiday festival at the Empire State Plaza. The three-day event drew over 60,000 people to see the lighting of the tree, fireworks, and the dedication of rink.
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