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SUPPOSED SLAP SHOT: Ice Hockey team protests to keep rink rights and it works

City of Fort Myers allows Florida Warriors to continue playing
Posted at 8:51 PM, Apr 29, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dozens of families protested in front of the Parks and Recreation building in Fort Myers Monday morning. The last week of April into the first week of May is when ice hockey rinks across the state host team tryouts.

The Fort Myers Skatium is on that list.

Parents were afraid the Florida Warrior Hockey Team, which uses that facility, was coming to an end.

SUPPOSED SLAP SHOT: Ice Hockey team protests to keep rink rights and it works

The City of Fort Myers, via email, notified the Warrior's coaches last Friday afternoon they would no longer be able to use the space to the same degree, after July 1. The current relationship allows for the Warrior's, and other organizations, to book the rink when they want to use it. It's often fully booked because of how often this team needs to practice there, but the city wants other organizations to utilize the space more.

The director of Parks and Recreation for the city, Elgin Hicks, says he thinks the Warrior's use the space about 75% of the time.

"We were in the process of kind redoing that schedule, so that we can accommodate everybody, and then we saw later they were having tryouts and we said 'woah, lets pump the breaks a little bit,' and now this is what we get," Hicks said.

Greg Hughes coordinated Monday morning's gathering. He worried kids would get into trouble with such a newfound gap in their schedule. He also says, to take his children to another rink, he estimates, would cost upwards of $20,000 to $30,000. The rink in Fort Myers is city owned and funded, at least partly, though tax payer dollars.

"This means that's 120 more children without something to do 3 to 4 days a week, Hughes said.

Save Youth Hockey sign at protest

"I was a little bit upset that our organization that I loved and played for was just getting ready to go down but I had a good feeling that we were going to beat it," Dominick Dantona, a Florida Warrior hockey player said.

After those who run the hockey organization and the city's leaders sat down for a meeting during the protest, the city changed it's mind.

"I've been going there since 1999, so it would have been really, really crazy to see them dismantle that," Joseph Giambaldo, one Warrior's coach said.

Tryouts will happen this week and the Warriors will not be dissolved. Parents felt there would be no need for tryouts if there were no rink time to practice in the future. Future time on the ice and how its divided, it will be a collaboration.

"It turned out to be a total miscommunication with the city," Florida Warrior's Hockey Director, Joe Sanders said.

Both sides initially felt they were not informed of what the other side was doing. The city claims it did not know when the tryouts were scheduled. The Warriors say it's the same time every year and has been posted where city leaders would have seen it.

"We are not trying to deny kids from playing, we are not trying to do any of that," Hicks said.