"And to have this much space in our community and nothing's happening in it, it just makes me sad," Alice McIntosh, neighborhood leader, said.
But now the Bronx Borough President is backing a plan to build nine ice rinks inside the Kingsbridge National Ice Center.
"It is our hope today to continue that positive momentum and to bring perhaps the greatest ice sports center that the world has ever known," Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
For the show of support, Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes was on hand and so was hockey legend Mark Messier, who says someday NHL players could come from the Bronx.
"I don't see why not. That is hopefully the dream of some of the kids here," Messier said.
The vision of a national ice center in the Bronx does have some competition. Another group wants to put basketball and rock climbing inside, along with a gym, shops and maybe even a place to dance.
Competing developers learned Wednesday night of Rivera's endorsement of the ice rink plan.
"Surprised and very disappointed, but we have to respect his decision," Margaret Lee, Youngwood Associates, said.
The decision is ultimately up to Mayor Bloomberg, but support from Diaz does carry a lot of clout.
City officials in the Mayor's office were supposed to make their decision by the end of the summer on what's to be built here. That deadline could be pushed to the end of the year. After today, the scales may have tipped ever-so-slightly in favor of that ice rink plan.
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