Kingsbridge Armory to become giant ice skating center

Celebrity athletes support Kingsbridge Armory ice skating center

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(AP Photo/New York City Mayor's Office) (AP Photo/New York City Mayor's Office)

Two celebrity athletes are part of a project to turn the empty Kingsbridge Armory into a massive ice sports center.

The plans include former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier and figure skater Sarah Hughes, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2002.

The project is billed as the world's largest indoor ice skating facility.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the announcement Tuesday.

The project is to include nine rinks on two different levels. One rink would be designed to host hockey tournaments and ice shows, with seating for 5,000 people.

The city plans to lease the block-sized building to a private development group.

Construction is expected to start next year with $275 million in private money.

Officials say it could draw 2 million visitors a year.

The city solicited proposals for the armory after a shopping mall plan fell apart in 2009 over concerns about what store workers would be paid.

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