Plans were announced by the City of New York to...

Plans were announced by the City of New York to turn the armory into the world's largest indoor ice skating facility. (April 23, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

The Kingsbridge Armory, which has been vacant since 1996, will be transformed into the world's largest indoor ice facility, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

When the $275 million building is up and running sometime in 2019, it will boast nine regulation-size ice rinks, one with seating for 5,000 spectators.

Bloomberg said the project would inject a boost to the Bronx economy.

"The construction of the world's largest indoor ice rink facility will create recreational opportunities for millions of visitors and local residents, and most importantly create hundreds of jobs for the local community," Bloomberg said in a statement.

The rinks will be spread out on two floors and at least two of the rinks will be sled-hockey compatible for users with disabilities.

In addition to the skating areas, the Kingsbridge National Ice Center will include locker rooms, rooms for rehabilitation, training and other skating-related activities.

Users looking to drive to the armory, which underwent $30 million in renovations to fix its roof, won't have to worry about parking -- a 480-spot lot is planned.

Former New York Rangers Captain Mark Messier and Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes were on hand for the announcement and said they were impressed with the proposed services.

It "represents new possibilities for so many children, including those who dream of one day becoming Olympic champions," Hughes, 27, a Great Neck native, said in a statement.

KNIC Partners LLC, the developers who won the bid to create the rink that the city's Economic Development Corporation put out last year, plans to start a free after-school program for disadvantaged children in which they would learn hockey skills.

"As a New Yorker, I know it will also change this city, providing invaluable educational and athletic opportunity to thousands of young people," Messier said.

NYC & Company, the city's tourism wing, has recently been pushing tourists to check out the outer boroughs on its website. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said the facility would be another hot spot to attract more visitors.

"This project shows the tremendous opportunity the Bronx has to offer," he said in a statement.

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