When kids get smacked into the boards at Washington, D.C.’s, Fort Dupont Ice Arena in the not-too-distant future, they might smile and say “cool” instead of cry and wince in pain.
That’s because their bodies will have collided with a piece of the National Hockey League, courtesy of the Washington Capitals. The Caps Wednesday donated the dasherboards and glass from the team’s Verizon Center home to Fort Dupont, the only indoor ice skating rink within the District of Columbia.
“It’s going to be cool for kids to be able to say they were checked into the boards that the Capitals played with or maybe sit in the penalty box where so many great Capitals players or NHL players in general had to spend time,” Fort Dupont General Manager Ty Newberry told me.
The Verizon Center installed new dasherboards and glass this summer ahead of the 2015-16 NHL season and stored the old set in the bowels of the stadium. Those boards were loaded Wednesday into a semi supplied by Bridgestone Americas (an NHL sponsor) and hauled to a warehouse in Pennsylvania.
Newberry said the boards will be installed as part of a $20.4 million makeover of the Southeast Washington skating facility. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2016.
The donated boards will help cut some of the expansion’s cost. New boards and glass run between $150,000 and $200,000. NHL-caliber boards and glass run about $250,000, Newberry said.
“It’s a big savings for us,” he added.
The Fort Dupont Ice Arena was built in 1976 and is one of the few indoor rinks in the United States located in a largely African-American community. It’s a stone’s throw from the historic home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and, ironically, not too far from where Philadelphia Flyers founder Ed Snider was born.
The rink is home to the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the nation’s oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program. And the rink offers a Kids on Ice program that provides youngsters with free skating lessons. The rink, through its programs, serves 7,000 children annually.
The Capitals are actively involved with the Fort Dupont rink, donating $113,000 to its hockey program since 2004.
“We thank the Capitals for donating the boards to the rink and Bridgestone for their assistance,” said Neal Henderson, the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club’s founder and head coach. “It’s a great gesture and the kids are going to be happy to know they’ll be playing with the boards with which the Washington Capitals played.”