Ed Snider saves Philadelphia skating rinks

112608_se1ice_400
Ed Snider, left, speaks at a press conference in which he and Mayor Michael Nutter announced that the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will take over operation of three city ice rinks. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff Photographer)

A public-private partnership is stepping up to save three city skating rinks whose futures were on thin ice.

Mayor Nutter and Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, announced yesterday that the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation would take over operation and programming at three rinks that officials said were targeted for possible closing amid the city's budget troubles. Comcast-Spectacor owns the Flyers.

At a news conference at the Rink at Simons Recreation and Teen Access Center at 7200 Woolston Ave. in the West Oak Lane section, Nutter hailed the partnership with the foundation.

"This is the kind of partnership we're looking to replicate in a number of ways," Nutter said, adding that the partnership means that each of the city's five ice rinks will be open this winter.

The foundation will provide free hockey instruction and leagues at the three rinks, including all equipment and homework, and academic help for students there, for one year, Nutter said.

The Recreation Department will retain overall responsibility for the activities and maintenance at the rinks, officials said.

Officials said the partnership would save the city about $150,000.

Scott Tharp, president of the foundation, declined to say how much it would spend at the three rinks but said it would be considerably more than $150,000.

Nutter said the partnership "portends well for the future of other entities who may want to come along and establish a new kind of relationship and a new way of doing things here in the city of Philadelphia."

The three rinks are the Scanlon Ice Rink, at J and Tioga Streets in the Harrowgate section; the Laura Sims Skate House at Cobbs Creek, at Cobbs Creek Parkway and Walnut Street in West Philadelphia; and the Rink at the Simons center.

The city operates two other rinks: the Rizzo Ice Rink at Front Street and Washington Avenue, and the Tarken Ice Rink at Frontenac and Levick Streets.

Snider, founder of the Flyers, said his foundation had helped several thousand inner-city children and that he hoped it will help up to 10,000 in future years.

"It's not only just teaching ice hockey, but through ice hockey we're helping these children with their schoolwork," Snider said. "We're helping them with life skills. They have to get good grades to participate."

Noting the city's budget troubles, which prompted him to call for the closing of 11 libraries and 68 pools among other cuts, Nutter encouraged other groups to consider partnerships with the city to provide some of the services offered at libraries and other facilities.

Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson, who was credited with forging the partnership with the foundation, also hailed the project.

Noting that few inner-city youth get to play hockey, Slawson said the partnership offered "another opportunity to expose our young people to something they otherwise would not be exposed to."

Lisa States, a Mount Airy resident whose two children, Eva, 7, and Steven, 10, participate in hockey programs, said they had benefited her children in a variety of ways.

"It's given them great confidence and helped their skating," States said. "And they have met some great kids."


Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.