BBP Fieldhouse Planners Really Want Your Ideas

At yesterday evening’s meeting at St. Francis College, New York City Fieldhouse, Inc.’s Executive Director, Greg Brooks (photo) said the project is in its early planning stage, and that the organization’s goal is to “meet public demand.” He said inquiries had revealed strong demand for indoor recreational facilities from area residents, community groups, and schools (the last was later seconded by Dr. Larry Weiss, Head of School at Brooklyn Friends). Mr. Brooks noted concerns about transportation and traffic, and said that an environmental impact statement would have to be prepared and filed.

Gabe Smith, of Thomas Phifer and Partners, the architectural firm retained to design the facility, said the goal was for the facility to be as environmentally and site sensitive as possible. He noted that, in addition to providing a facility for track cycling (Mr. Brooks had earlier noted that this would be only the second such indoor facility in the U.S., the other being at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles) and facilities for other sports and recreational activities, the agreement with Brooklyn Bridge Park povides that it must also provide a maintenance facility for the Park and restrooms for park visitors as well as for those using the Fieldhouse. The maximum footprint for the Fieldhouse is 115,000 square feet, but the designers’ intent is to make it as small as possible, consistent with the need to include the bicycle track. It is possible that the maintenance facility and the Fileldhouse may entirely or partially occupy the same space. Tony Manheim, a longtime park supporter who was in attendance, suggested that space could be saved by placing part of the Fieldhouse under the slope of the berm that is to be constructed to shield the Park from noise from the BQE. He also said that the Fieldhouse itself could add to the noise abatement, and that federal funds may be available to defray some of its cost because of that.

Representative of cycle clubs present at the meeting said they had polled their members and found that all were willing to pay a fee to use the velodrome track. The question was raised whether the Fieldhouse as a whole would be operated on a membership basis, so that all using the facilities would have to pay a fee. Mr. Brooks said this was not likely.

There will be another meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) evening in Willowtown to discuss the Fieldhouse project.

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  • George W

    The Fieldhouse is a wonderful addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It is desperately needed by the children, teens and active adults in our neighborhoods. I like that it will make the park useable for my family during the winter months and in the evenings. This significantly adds to the value of the park!

  • yoohoo

    In view of the somewhat vague information presented, the height restrictions mandated by the Scenic View Plane; the planned infield’s relatively small dimensions; the fact that Brooklyn Bridge Park requires the New York Fieldhouse organization to provide a park storage facility, space for the BBP Boathouse and public restrooms; maybe the organization might consider using as much ground space as BBP is willing to give instead of promising to minimize the footprint. If the infield contained more or larger courts for various sports, more user groups could be accommodated.

    As to paid memberships, it might be good to look into the operation of Asphalt Green which, if I remember correctly, was developed as a facility to also serve the impoverished community of the area, not only the well-off residents of Yorkville. Although it requires hefty membership fees for every sport, I would imagine that local public schools, social service organization and summer camp groups are given time for much lower fees, if any.

  • James

    This is a for-profit enterprise masquerading as a public service venue. It’s a cheap way for the owner to get the land he needs upon which to build his velodrome. There are surely better uses for the site.

  • Sceptic

    The “Fieldhouse” masquerades as a “community recreational center” when it really is an immensely ambitious, and an immensely speculative, attempt to create a user and spectator constituency for this relatively obscure sub-division of bicycliing adequate to pay for annual operating costs which are bound to exceed $1 million a year. Its official statement says that it “believes that track cycling lifts the hopes and spirits of communities all over the world and that New York City deserves both to benefit from this rapidly growing sport AND TO BECOME A NEW WORLD HUB FOR THE SPORT (caps supp.).” Greg Brooks has stated that they hope to attract competitive track cyclists from Europe, and that since NYC is closer, to take over from the Los Angeles velodrome as the ‘go to’ site for international track cycling events. That the oval inside the elaborate, banked cycling track will be made available to local schools and groups for basketball, volleyball, and other floor-sports (summer as well as winter) is intended to attract the support of many park boosters who do wish for an indoor gym during winter months, but (unless the Fieldhouse enlarges its 200m track to the international standard 250m track) the ‘gym floor’ will be only 15-16,000 sq ft — the same as the already existing 3 sand volleyball courts on Pier 5. Revenue projections for the proposed 250m indoor velodrome outside Toronto, Canada call for more than 85% of revenues to come from track cycling users and events and concessions, less than 15% from users of their (larger) gym floor. Clearly the ‘tail’ which wags this dog is young Mr. Rechnitz’ dream of a major track cycling venue, not some mostly winter-time community use of the little gym. And when his competitors and spectators flock from as far as Pennsylvania or Vermont, each with their own custom bike in his/her own car or van, the place for parking these 100s and100s of vehicles will, alas, not have been provided.
    And briefly — re Ashpalt Green: they have a $17 million operating budget, $13.5 million in operating revenues, another $500,000 from ‘events’, and the rest from investment income, contributions, and grants — and rest comfortably on over $17 million of cash, investments, and contributions receivable. Mr. Rechnitz’ family may be rich, but perhaps not that rich.

  • Neighbor Hood

    @skeptic- Brilliant- Kudos and a firm “I second that”!