Rangers return to revamped Long Beach Ice Arena
The former "Long Beach Home of the New York Rangers" was its old self again Saturday.
The Long Beach Ice Arena, where the hockey team practiced during much of the 1970s, hosted a grand reopening, with Rangers alumni on hand as the rink made a comeback from damage done by superstorm Sandy.
"A lot of people still feel it's the home of the Rangers," said former winger Steve Vickers, 62, who lived in Long Beach for some of the '70s. "Everywhere you went around Long Beach, people knew you."
The rink ceased hosting Rangers practice games near the decade's end, but remained active.
Sandy brought four feet of water to the 32,500-square-foot, 800-seat arena. Renovations, which began in February, included a new refrigeration system for the rink, rubber flooring and fixes to the ice resurfacing machine. The New York Rangers and Chase Bank donated $25,000.
For Roy Tepper, 69, the city judge, the return of the arena -- and the Blueshirts -- indicates "the city is all the way back."
Hundreds came for the official reopening, which included an exhibition game.
Anthony Scali, 38, of Bellmore, brought his 5-year-old son, Anthony, for autographs. "It's just great for his confidence," Scali said, as his son was ready with a Rangers uniform.
Former defenseman Ron Greschner recalled his first summer in the NHL, at age 19 with the Rangers in 1974, and renting a Long Beach bungalow with teammates. "It was easy living here; it was a comfortable place to live, it wasn't a big town or city to get lost in," said Greschner, now 58 and living in Greenwich, Conn.
"It's unbelievable," said Tepper. "We didn't know they would ever come back, and now they're here."
The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Rangers, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision, which owns Newsday.