A rendering of the 125-foot-by-225-foot inflatable, domed NHL-size hockey rink...

A rendering of the 125-foot-by-225-foot inflatable, domed NHL-size hockey rink a nonprofit plans to build at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton and open in January 2023. Officials with the Peconic Hockey Foundation said it will be the only facility of its kind east of Hauppauge. Credit: Courtesy Peconic Hockey Foundation

The Riverhead Town Board has approved an agreement to allow the Peconic Hockey Foundation to build and operate an enclosed NHL-size ice rink at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton, the first of its kind to be built east of Hauppauge.

The 125-foot by 225-foot inflatable domed structure will be built on a 1.5-acre portion of the town-owned property. The contract allows the nonprofit to lease the land for the next 15 years, with options to extend the agreement through 2047.

“It’s very exciting,” said foundation president Troy Albert, of Wading River. “There’s a 70-mile gap from Exit 58 [to Montauk] where there’s just nothing like this.”

Albert said the $1 million project also includes plans for an outdoor training rink and eventually to build a second full-size rink so the facility can host hockey tournaments. The contract approved Tuesday gives the foundation the right to expand as long as it obtains the necessary approvals. 

The foundation’s goal is to have ice available for the public to skate on by mid-January 2023. In addition to youth and adult hockey, the ice will be used for community lessons, figure skating and open skate nights.

“Riverhead opened their arms to us because they see it as a benefit to the community, as it will attract tourism and be great for local hotels and restaurants,” Albert said.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said at Tuesday’s meeting that she’s “looking forward to this project.”

As part of the agreement, town residents can use the facility at a 25% discount.

“It’s going to be great for all of our Riverhead Town residents,” Councilman Ken Rothwell said.

The foundation and the town had previously discussed plans to build the domed rink at Stotzky Park in Riverhead, but it was agreed the Calverton location — just west of the Enterprise Park at Calverton — was more readily available to begin construction.

“That location also provides better access for the rest of Long Island,” Albert said of the park.

The rink will be constructed just east of the existing ballfields at Veterans Memorial Park, which is on Middle Country Road. Adult and youth baseball, softball and lacrosse leagues play there.

The agreement states that Peconic Hockey Foundation will operate the facility and be responsible for utilities and maintenance. It must be made available to the public for at least three hours daily between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Albert said his organization, which was founded in 2015 and includes seven travel teams, hopes to raise an additional $350,000 for the project. Fundraising efforts have been buoyed by support from retired NHL star Mark Messier and onetime NFL running back Jerome Bettis. In turn, the group has provided Suffolk County school districts with skating-related scholarships for students moving on to college. The mission of the group is to grow the game of hockey on Long Island, Albert said.

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