Roosevelt Islanders Out, But Not So Fast: RIOC Backs Off New Unaffordable Sportspark Rates


In a stealth move in February, RIOC released stunning new Sportspark rates for members and groups. Governor Kathy Hochul and RIOC President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes set aside community resources for high-income earners, moving farther from residents at the core of the community. The news was not posted on any of RIOC’s social media platforms, but upscale magazines and the like got it.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

But by yesterday, March 9th, under pressure from all sides, RIOC backed down, suspending the entire rate increase. It’s just a suspension, however, and there is no guarantee of what comes next.

Sportspark remains closed, and there has been no reopening date as promised. And there’s this: As we reported a few days after the original announcement, this latest Haynes/Hochul screwup will cost Roosevelt Islanders plenty.

As this video show, RIOC is still promising a reopening soon, using a high-priced screen near the entrace. This has been running for weeks.

In November, months before releasing the information, Haynes hired and began paying two high-paid executives with an eye on converting Sportspark from a community center to a mock Equinox. The move ridiculously attempted to fulfill Haynes’s dream of making the facility a profit center.

After stuffing his staff with loyalists with salary boost through the roof, someone had to pay for it, and this was part of the plan. The sad part is, Roosevelt Islanders will pay for Hochul’s and Haynes’s profligate spending.

At this point, the future of Haynes’s most recent screwup is unknown with Sportspark entering it’s second year of closure while Team RIOC faces a huge wrongful death lawsuit from a 2021 drowning in the pool.

Not without humor…

After “Team RIOC” made this announcement, it rushed out two more on Facebook.

The first, described as “exciting,” said that RIOC News was “making a grad return” in April. One person could not resist giving it a thumbs up over the next 16 hours. But that’s one less than the two likes the Sportspark thing got on Twitter.

Also exciting on Facebook was the announcement of a “Roosevelt Island Official Community Events Calendar.”

Both arrived by way of the Mount… Seldom Seen Shelton Haynes’s Offical Blackwell House Bunker.

As First Reported Here

In a press release dated February 23rd, 2023, Haynes said, “To say I am excited for the reopening of Sportspark would be an understatement – much like the community, I am eager to unveil the new facility. The recreation center is now so much more and will serve as a central hub for the community, emphasizing overall health, wellness, and fitness.”

Rolling Out the New Sportspark Rates

That’s not true, of course, because the new Sportspark rates, at $125 monthly per adult, price out many middle- and probably all low-income Roosevelt Islanders. At no time since its founding has the local community suffered such naked elitism.

Not only is the $125/monthly fee far higher than anything charged before, but it also comes without any family or partner rates. A teen rate of $50 covers only 15- to 17-year-olds. At 18, you’re an adult, and those under 15 aren’t welcome at all.

One gross insult in the Sportspark rates is the absence of reduced rates for people with disabilities, although there are – $95/mo. – for seniors 65 and older. Just weeks ago, Haynes insisted on raising Motorgate fees for disabled permits, claiming it was otherwise unfair to seniors.

RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes openly showed his disregard for people with disabilities by leaving this disturbing sign posted outside his office for over six months. Governor Hochul’s Albany overseers overlooked the offense.

Some “central hub for the community,” as Haynes boasts with Hochul’s approval.

For the record, Roosevelt Islanders, via the RIOC tax, paid for the Sportspark renovations.

Here’s who you should thank for supporting this insult…

  • Governor Kathy Hochul
  • Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskis
  • President CEO Shelton J. Haynes
  • Board Members: The Former David Kraut, The Robotic Conway Ekpo, The Former Fay Christian, Mr. Go Along To Get Along Howard Polivy

It could not have happened without them.

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    • It’s true that Democrats have abused and disrespected Roosevelt Island, not all but certainly the Albany leadership. That’s bad, but the worst part is, if we went 100% for another party, we’re so small, we’d get 0 results. On the plus side, Hochul, like Haynes and Adams, is so dreadful that she’s opening doors for competition.

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