The key in this instance is that Fort Dupont will remain an independent non-profit operation and will continue to focus its efforts and resources on children and inner-city youth.
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena today announced the appointment of a new Chairman of the Board and additional Directors. Incoming Chairman Murry N. Gunty, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Black Bear Sports Group, Inc., brings rink ownership, operating expertise and extensive hockey experience and resources to Fort Dupont. His election and those of additional directors will sustain the rink’s longstanding commitment to the community, maintain its operation as a non-profit, and continue Kids On Ice® programs that for 25 years have transformed the lives of more than 20,000 children, primarily from Wards 7 and 8.
"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. 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,” said Gunty. “Our commitment is to preserve and strengthen the special role of Fort Dupont in the community and sustain the positive impact of its extraordinary programs, teams, coaches and instructors.”
Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. is a privately-held company that owns, manages and operates 27 ice rinks across the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, including three in Maryland. Black Bear also owns 15 youth hockey clubs and three junior hockey teams, including the Maryland Black Bears in Odenton, MD. Black Bear's rinks are primarily in metropolitan areas with a National Hockey League presence. Gunty is local to Washington and has three children, two of whom skated for high school teams that called Fort Dupont home ice.
In addition to Gunty, new directors joining the existing Fort Dupont board include Tarik El-Bashir, a native Washingtonian and one of the country’s preeminent sports and hockey reporters; Kim Weiss, also from the area and the first female bench coach of a North American Junior Hockey team; former Preseason All-American football running back and business executive Ellery Roberts; high-profile criminal defense attorney and Harvard Law Review member Ismail J. Ramsey; Bob Weiss, owner/operator of Rockville Ice Rink, the largest such facility in the DC Metro area; and several Black Bear financial and management executives.
"Fort Dupont will remain independent of Black Bear and continue operation as a stand-alone non-profit with a different mission from our commercial rinks,” said Gunty. “The Fort Dupont Board has done an exceptional job of building and maintaining the rink and the KOI programs. With the help of additional directors, we will be able to provide operational resources and national outreach to a Board that has strong community representation and a track record of success. I believe this diverse group will help meet the rink’s needs today and in the future.”
“Murry brings extraordinary resources and national relationships that can ensure Fort Dupont’s sustainability and growth,” said outgoing chairman Willem Polak, who will remain on the board. “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. I am proud of what we 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.”
Atop the agenda for the new board is the long-awaited construction of a new ice arena. With construction scheduled to begin next spring, the new arena will replace the existing facility with an NHL-size ice sheet as well as expanded locker facilities, support facilities, and a community meeting room. The state-of-the-art facility will open in 2023.
For 25 years, Fort Dupont has served more than 20,000 children through Kids On Ice® programs, and with off-ice enrichment programs for children ages 5-18. The rink provides skates, equipment, and lessons to all who need them. Fort Dupont offers summer camps, DC Department of Parks and Recreation programming, and partners with D.C. Public and Public Charter Schools to offer instruction and ice time free-of-charge through the Schools Skate for Fitness program. The rink also hosts annual Special Olympics Speed Skating training and competitions and is home to the Fort Dupont Cannons, the country’s oldest minority youth hockey club, founded by U.S.A. Hockey Hall-of-famer Neal Henderson.
The Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation have been long-time partners to Fort Dupont Ice Arena and the Fort Dupont Cannons. In support of the new arena, the NHL, Monumental Sports and Entertainment and Caps owner Ted Leonsis launched a $500,000 GoFundMe campaign – helping reach the fundraising goal set by the city to trigger construction of the new rink.
“The community’s ongoing support and response to the need for a new, modern facility have been incredible,” said Gunty. “My own kids played hockey at Fort Dupont, so I feel a personal connection to this special arena, where families in the District will continue to have the opportunity to discover and enjoy hockey and the other great ice sports.”