Union County News

Warinanco Sports Center Opens After $7 Million Renovation

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Outside of the newly renovated Warinanco Sports Center Credits: Fran Sullivan
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Dr. Charles Polk students Credits: Fran Sullivan
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The new ice rink Credits: Fran Sullivan
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ROSELLE, NJ — The newly renovated Warinanco Sports Center that includes the popular ice skating rink had its unofficial opening today, May 16, drawing a crowd that included state and municipal leaders and 75 Roselle students. Later this year, the county will host a full celebration marking the start of skating activities.

“You can tell by how many elected officials are here that they are excited about this project,” Freeholder Chair Bruce Bergen told the crowd who filled the large, sunny cafe area.  

The $7 million renovation doubled the facility’s size and transformed it into a year-round venue for skating, baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced.

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“Our vision was to provide modernized amenities while creating a venue that can remain in use year-round for other purposes,” said Freeholder Bruce H. Bergen. “We are excited to be opening an exciting update that has restored the skating rink to full prominence.”

After years of trying to get approval for the renovation of the skating rink, which was built in 1961, the project, which was financed through the County’s Park’s Department, was completed over a two-year period. 

Remembers Armando Sanchez, the county’s director of recreational facilities, said, “We took the same model we used for the Galloping Hill Golf course to the freeholders and said, ‘Look at the success, and we are going to do it again. We are going to build a great management team.’ They said, ‘If you are going to do the same thing then we are in’. It passed 9-0.”

Part of that management team is Sports Facilities Management who will also be involved in both the re-branding and marketing of the new Warinanco Sports Center, as well as the park itself.

“We are asked what our goals are,” said Eric Sullivan, vice president of sports facility management. “We say our goals are the county’s goals. We want to have as many people in the community come out and enjoy the facility.”

Their first steps were to define the needs and wants of the community, listening to the participants who use this popular park. “We want to create greater opportunities for families and children and keep this park like it was our own,” said Sullivan.                                                                    

Elements of the renovation/modernization included:

  • A new state-of-the-art field house measuring 11,000 square feet, including two rooms for parties, a large food concession area, a video game room, and skate rental room;
  • A new exterior seating area that will be covered, protecting patrons from the elements;
  • The rink’s refrigeration system has been renovated;
  • A new ice rink floor has been installed (covering the same foot print), including new refrigeration piping, LEED lighting and reflective ceiling, which is made from a material which will help prevent humidity build-up;
  • New flooring in the rink as well as new boards, glass and nets;
  • An all new gas fireplace--stone covered and running the height of the field house and big screen TVs throughout;
  • Team locker rooms have also been remodeled.

Later this summer, a field turf will be laid on the rink floor with baseball/softball batting cages where baseball and softball leagues, soccer clubs and lacrosse teams can play.

Perhaps the biggest oohs and aahs came from the children from Roselle’s Dr. Charles Polk School.

“I think it is going to be better than the old because now it has a roof and sells food and has tables,” observed 10-year-old Liani Corio. “It is better for our generation.”

Added 9-year-old Nalcy Sully, “It was a big, empty space and I didn’t know what it was. I figure out it was a sports center. Now it is big and beautiful.”

“At the end of the day, this is what it is all about,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “It’s all about the kids. It’s all about the future.”

There was one group that wasn’t forgotten by the students. Said Kacey Ann Walker, “The workers should inspire people because they built a beautiful place here.”

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