Community

New Chair, Board Members Tapped for Fort Dupont Ice Arena

The governing body of the District’s only public indoor ice-skating arena, located east of the Anacostia River in Ward 7, announced its new board members on July 30.

The Friends of the Fort Dupont Ice Arena named Murry N. Gunty, the founder and chief executive officer of Bethesda, Md.-based Black Bear Sports Group Inc. — a private enterprise that owns and manages ice rinks, youth hockey clubs and junior hockey teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions — as its new chairman of the board.

New members of the board include Tarik El-Bashir, a District native who attended Howard University and worked as a sportswriter for the Washington Post and covers professional hockey for television and online platforms; Kim Weiss, the first female bench coach of a North American Junior Hockey team; business executive Ellery Roberts; criminal defense attorney Ismail J. Ramsey; and Bob Weiss, owner/operator of Rockville Ice Rink.

Gunty said he looks forward to working with the board to take the arena to another level of efficiency and productivity.

“We are excited to join and continue the great work of the board, build on its success and preserve the arena’s role as a vital recreation facility for families in the District,” Gunty said. “With a mission to serve children who may lack access to skating facilities, equipment and guide them from Learn to Skate to the great sports of hockey, figure, speed and synchronized skating, Fort Dupont is a unique treasure among ice rinks in North America. Our commitment is to preserve and strengthen the role of Fort Dupont in the community and sustain the positive impact of its extraordinary programs, teams, coaches and instructors.”

The arena has received national attention for serving more than 20,000 children primarily residing east of the river through its Kids On Ice program that introduces ice sports to youngsters 5-18 years old. Fort Dupont works with partners such as the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, D.C. public and charter schools and summer camps to promote athleticism through ice sports as well as hosts the Special Olympics speed skating training and competitions. The arena also serves as the home for the Fort Dupont Cannons, the country’s oldest minority youth hockey club.

The board comes on as it seeks to build a new ice arena, with construction set to begin next spring. The new arena will supplant the current facility with a National Hockey League-sized ice sheet plus an expanded locker room, support space and a community meeting room. Board officials said the new redone facility will open in 2023. Ted Leonsis, the lead owner of the Washington Capitals professional hockey team and the NHL, launched a $500,000 GoFundMe campaign a few years ago which reached its funding goals for the new arena.

Outgoing chairman Willem Polak will stay on the board. Polak said, “Murry brings extraordinary resources and national relationships that can ensure Fort Dupont’s sustainability and growth.”

“I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve as chairman since 1996 and have seen our Kids On Ice program transform the lives of thousands of children,” Polak said. “I am proud of what I have accomplished and am excited to turn the reins over to Murry, who will lead the rink into its new home and a great future.”

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