Exploring the NYU-Chelsea Piers Relationship
February 13, 2017
Embodying its in-and-of-the-city status, NYU has facilities scattered throughout the boroughs, just like its sports. Since Palladium Hall and 404 Lafayette are NYU’s two primary athletic locations for NYU in Manhattan, many students are forced to find non-NYU facilities to play their desired sports. One location that constantly pops up among NYU athletics is Chelsea Piers.
Located on the Hudson River — west of Hudson River Park and the West Side Highway -— Chelsea Piers has long been a close associate of NYU. Ever since the facility opened more than 20 years ago, it has worked with NYU to provide athletic facilities for the university’s students. With time, NYU’s relationship with Chelsea Piers has grown. It now serves as the home rink for NYU’s club hockey team. The location also hosts all of NYU’s basketball and volleyball intramural games, most NYU soccer intramurals, a driving range for the golf team, a batting cage for the baseball team and an indoor space for the soccer team.
Consequently, Chelsea Piers plays a large role in fostering the success of NYU Athletics. However, many students at NYU feel that the university should expand its relationship with the facility. NYU’s club hockey team plays its home games at the venue’s Sky Rink, and its games have had massive turnouts from NYU students. Considering Chelsea Piers’s proximity to NYU’s Washington Square campus — about 1.3 miles — it is easy to see why students enjoy attending sports events there.
In a university that is not known for its athletics, the majority of NYU’s student population feels detached from its varsity teams. In fact, most students don’t know where our teams play. While NYU hockey receives a lot of attention, most NYU varsity games are played all around Manhattan and sometimes even further afield. For example, the varsity soccer team plays most home games at Manhattan College in the Bronx, which is about an hour’s subway ride away from the Washington Square campus. Because of this inconvenient location, the majority of NYU varsity games see low turnouts from Violets. Thus, many students have started asking why Chelsea Piers does not host more NYU teams.
Just a short bus or subway ride away — or even a walk if you’re feeling adventurous — it would be the perfect place for NYU to hold sporting events. Many NYU students, such as NYU soccer freshman midfielder Owen Smith, midfielder for NYU soccer, feel that moving our teams to Chelsea Piers would increase students’ spirit and interest in NYU sports.
“Pier 40 is the dream,” Smith said. “Everyone on the team really likes playing there. I think playing games there would attract a lot of fans and make a big difference to the team.”
But moving NYU’s varsity teams to Chelsea Piers is much easier said than done. Most of the facilities do not meet minimum NCAA requirements for the basketball, soccer and volleyball teams. NYU Athletics Senior Associate Director Frank Sicignano does not think a move to Chelsea Piers is currently in the cards.
“We are happy that hockey draws well there,” Sicignano said. “As for other NYU teams, I do not think so due to the way Chelsea Piers is currently constructed.”
Thus, while it seems like an ideal change for NYU Athletics, there are still many roadblocks for Chelsea Piers to become a permanent venue for all NYU teams.
However, Chelsea Piers Sports Center General Manager Jared Deptula is open to the idea of NYU expanding its presence at the piers.
“It could be a possibility,” Deptula said. “There are a lot of moving parts for both Chelsea Piers and NYU. I think the Chelsea Piers/NYU relationship will continue to evolve based on needs and availability. Chelsea Piers wants to continue to play an integral role in the success of NYU Athletics and will support in every way we can.”
So, while many considerations remain before NYU can move its teams to the piers, the potential for such a migration does exist, and both NYU and Chelsea Piers are open to the possibility.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 13 print edition. Email Lorenzo Gazzola at [email protected]