Sportspark Inside – Shiny, Slick and New But Limited on Roosevelt Island


The Sportspark inside tours commenced immediately after the ribbon-cutting last Friday. Discarding a calendar of intimate tours, RIOC President/CEO invited everyone present to line up at the entrance.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

When Roosevelt Islanders finally got a look at Sportspark inside, the many months of delays and missteps before reopening were easily set aside for now.

“It takes some thought when you put a place in service to make the experience enjoyable,” former CFO John O’Reilly told The Daily.

O’Reilly, managing Capital Projects & Planning and coordinating with RIOC subcontractor LiRo, took charge of overseeing the rebuild. “I hope we hit the target.”

They did. 

At 11:00 a.m., the scheduled start of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the crowd was thin. Later, it grew to around 100, about half of which were RIOC employees. The entire executive office crew showed up, plus grounds and PSD.

At least partly because of awkward scheduling – mid-morning on a weekday – not a lot of non-RIOC employees showed up. But resident enthusiasm is expected to be high as the facility’s doors finally open at reasonable fees.

The highlights were both intimately small and pleasingly large as the rebuilds meticulous touches show.

Before, complaints about ancient showers and locker rooms were routine. They won’t be now.

The new showers, accented in relaxing blue, coordinated in style with nearby lockers.

“We made some subtle changes that I hope everyone noticed,” O’Reilly said. “We stained the 3 second area under the baskets to be somewhat similar to the Nets home court.”

A discerning visitor inside Sportspark for the first time after re-opening admires the details.

 “We also added the accent of red in the air controllers overhead in the gym and pool area.”

“We went to a black accent in the gym on the seats and pads and went to a brighter accent at the pool to make the area more exciting for the users.”

Other amenities included fully equipped workout and strength training areas, a small lounge for watching TV and visiting and an open space for exercise classes.

The area probably most in demand is the pool, and it had enhancements most probably will not notice.

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“As a result of managing the project so well, we had money available to completely fix the filtration system of the pool which was broken years ago due to RIOC trying to make a fix without the proper experience,” O’Reilly noted.

“At one time the pool would shut down for a day or 2 when they need to add chemicals to the filtration system. The closing was due to the damage done previously.  We fixed that so now the pool does not have to shut down.”


Sportspark inside is a big win for Roosevelt Islanders. The road was rocky with unpleasant surprises, but in the end, RIOC came through. As the future rolls out, the facility’s viability depends on overcoming a few obstacles.

Among them, the flow inside is far from smooth, and it lacks a real lounge area or retail giving users relaxing space for socializing and spending cash on fitness foods and beverages.

Hidden behind the enthusiasm are doubts about financing.

With RIOC struggling through a financial crisis, the state forced it to rollback usages fees by around 80%, If they needed that much money before the cuts, how will they manage with so much less?

What we know for sure is that O’Reilly and LiRo pulled off a small masterpiece. Now, it’s up to the executives to make it work.


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