Dek hockey rinks pop up in Western Pa. in effort to encourage youth play
The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation is teaming with Highmark and Citiparks to build 12 dek hockey rinks in the next four years to encourage young athletes to try the sport.
Penguins CEO David Morehouse, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Highmark executive Dan Onorato, the former Allegheny County executive, plan to dedicate the first rink Tuesday in Banksville Park on Crane Avenue.
Plans call for a second rink in Lewis Park at the corner of Irvine and Berkwick streets in Hazelwood. Other sites are under discussion. Organizers plan four rinks for the city and eight more in the suburbs as part of the foundation's $2.1 million youth hockey initiative dubbed “Project Power Play.”
Highmark is contributing $1.5 million and the Penguins Foundation is spending $600,000. The foundation raised some of the money from sales of popular hockey-themed Christmas ornaments fashioned by Wendell August Forge artisans from sections of the former Civic Arena's domed, stainless-steel roof.
The Banksville rink is 155 feet by 75 feet. It has a blue, hard plastic surface surrounded by side boards, players benches and a penalty box. The rink is suitable for other sports, including lacrosse and soccer. Dek hockey is based on ice hockey but played on foot or in-line skates and with a ball or puck.
“What this may do is get a lot of kids into dek hockey instead of other sports like basketball and soccer,” said Andy Virostek, owner of Murrysville SportZone & Dek Hockey, a privately owned youth sports complex that broke ground in July on a 30,000-square-foot indoor arena to allow dek hockey year-round. “I think it's a good thing for kids and the community.”
Virostek called demand for time on dek hockey rinks robust. He said roughly 3,000 people a week visit his facility.
Adding 12 rinks to the region would likely increase competition for private operators who charge fees to participate in leagues and reserve time on the rink, he said.
Citiparks will operate the city rinks. City of Pittsburgh employees contributed some materials and labor valued at less than $50,000 toward building the rink, said Joanna Doven, Ravenstahl's spokeswoman.
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.