Who Needs Ice? Roller-Skating Comes to Rockefeller Center.

A rendering of the new roller-skating rink at Rockefeller Center, set to open April 15. (ImageFiction for Flipper’s and Tishman Speyer)
[nytimes.com – 2022.03.15] The winter ice-skating season may be drawing to a close at Rockefeller Center, but this year the party will continue after the ice thaws. Get ready for roller-skating.

For the first time since 1940, a roller rink will occupy the sunken plaza at the heart of Midtown’s Art Deco complex. Tishman Speyer, the owner of Rockefeller Center, has contracted with the Los Angeles-based Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace for the project.

Once the ice rink closes on Sunday, its enclosing walls will be lifted out of the plaza by crane, to be stowed away until the return of the ice skating season next winter, and a smaller rink will take its place. The new rink is scheduled to open on April 15; tickets ($20 for adults) are now on sale.

With the move to a wheel-friendly rink, Rockefeller Center seems to be embracing the retro roller-skating craze that took off during the pandemic.

The owners of Rockefeller Center have long tried to find ways to liven up the plaza and draw visitors to the shops in the underground concourse around it.

After the complex opened in 1933, the concourse stores languished because people didn’t want to schlep down the steps to the plaza and back again. Then someone hit on the idea of installing an ice-skating rink. It opened in 1936 and has been in operation every year since.

Roller-skating was briefly tested out there in 1940. Tennis courts came and went. The plaza has also been the site of flower shows and concerts, including Aerosmith in 2018.

Because the roller rink will be about half the size of the ice rink, there will be room on the plaza for tables and chairs so people can bring food outside and watch all the action.

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