Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Southeast Washington is in jeopardy. On January 25, Mayor Muriel Bowser requested that the money allocated for its renovation – about $25 million – be re-routed to other programs. Bowser cited urgent issues with building maintenance in D.C. Public Schools in her request. Per Fort Dupont's "Save Our Rink" campaign webpage, management was not contacted ahead of time to discuss Bowser's request.
The rink has been in talks for significant upgrades, including a second sheet of ice, for several years now. According to recent estimates, modernization and expansion should cost about $30 million, with Friends of Fort Dupont and the community at large raising the remaining $5 million.
Fort Dupont, the only public full-sized ice arena in the District's boundaries, serves thousands of young skaters and hockey players. More importantly, it serves as a community meeting place for kids from Wards 7, 8, and beyond. "Kids on Ice", their most popular program, teaches children how to skate for free.
Youth hockey continues to be popular in the D.C. area. But for many families, cost is a huge barrier to entry. Fort Dupont aims to make hockey more accessible and more inclusive to a wide range of communities in the area.
I watched Fort Dupont practice today.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) February 2, 2019
Black coaches, black trainers, black players.
And I realized I had never seen that before.
And that's on me, and the company I keep.
But imagine how powerful that image would have been for a little black boy or girl.
Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly also contributes to Fort Dupont, hosting hockey clinics for its youth teams. He's spoken passionately on several occasions about the importance of supporting young Black players and communities who look up to athletes like him.
A few weeks ago, Smith-Pelly and teammate John Carlson hosted the Metro Maple Leafs at Capital One, standing behind the players who defended one of their teammates from racist taunts.
On Sunday, Capitals owner Ted Leonisis, the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation, and the National Hockey League announced their launch of an official GoFundMe page to raise money to help renovate Fort Dupont Ice Arena.
Each of the three page founders have pledged $100,000 towards the project's $500,000 goal.
Today, @MSE is launching a GoFundMe page with @NHL to support needed renovations at Ft. Dupont Ice Arena, which has a huge place in our community and in our hearts. MSE, NHL and @tedleonsis are each giving 100K. Please give what you can! @FriendsofFDIA https://t.co/hNjMiZgGQC— Monumental Sports (@MSE) February 3, 2019
If you'd like to support Fort Dupont, especially as Hockey is for Everyone month kicks off, you can donate via the MSEF GoFundMe page, visit the rink's website to find out how to reach out to city council members, or check out Friends of Fort Dupont's Twitter page.
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