As Secrets Spill, RIOC’s Plan for Sportspark Is Bad News, Really Bad News

As Secrets Spill, RIOC’s Plan for Sportspark Is Bad News, Really Bad News

Secrets spill like accidental leaks in the facade Governor Kathy Hochul and RIOC CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes put up around Sportspark’s future. The disdain both have for Roosevelt Island sets the tone for a sharp turn away from the community we knew. Sportspark is being spun as a profit center.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Tuesday, in what it calls a “News Flash,” RIOC announced hiring two new managers who will oversee Sportspark when it finally reopens. They did not release it in an email advisory, and like so much in the Hochul/Haynes orbit, it isn’t truthful.

The Sportspark Secrets Spill

The truth is simple. Both managers – Director Joseph Natale & General Manager Philip Flynn – were hired months ago. In November, according to what each posted on their LinkedIn profiles at the time.

RIOC will never disclose why it’s lying again, hiding the truth while telling a different story. But you don’t have to dig too deep to find the unpleasant implications.

As has been shown in the past, Hochul’s and Haynes’s distaste for Roosevelt Island drives a lot of what percolates behind the scenes at RIOC. Reduced and disappeared community events pepper the calendar. Black History Month, completely unacknowledged by the state agency, is a current example.

But now, it’s dramatic with Sportspark.

All indications are that Hochul and Haynes have designed a facility plan that will shock and disappoint local residents. Some, like the Roosevelt Island Marlins swim team, will feel unwelcome as intended.

Digging Up an Apparent Plan

No need for reading between the lines. Nothing’s been hidden except the hirings, now revealed in a secret spill discovered by The Daily.

While Haynes fudged about the reasons for delaying Sportspark’s reopening at the November board meeting, he had just hired the new executives.

One, Natale, spent over six years climbing management rungs at Equinox, the upscale fitness club touting “…luxury amenities that keep you performing at your best.”

How does that fit in with Sportspark’s culture? You’ll see.

The second hire, Flynn, is a marketing specialist by education, specifically “marketing life style,” he says.

From the secrets spill, what emerges is a game plan making the community activity center into an upscale sports club marketed to outsiders with fees well beyond the means of many Roosevelt Islanders.

After years of waiting and paying for Sportspark’s renovation, Hochul and Haynes will give the community an elitist kick in the pants.

Sad as this is, add it all up. RIOC’s distaste for the community forced to pay its bills, the ongoing effort to change Roosevelt Island into a tourist destination, Seldom Seen Haynes’s incompetence – you get the picture.

This is not the pioneers’ Roosevelt Island anymore. It belongs to Governor Hochul and CEO Haynes now.

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