Washington Capitals-donated skating rink nears opening at Lake Fairfax Park

The Washington Capitals will soon unveil a new sports facility in Northern Virginia — one likely to be much less controversial than the team owner’s failed push for an arena in Alexandria.

Installation of the inline skate rink donated by the D.C.-based professional hockey team to Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive) in Reston is expected to finish this week, according to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The park authority and Capitals will celebrate the project’s completion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and free ball hockey clinic at the rink this Saturday (May 11) from 10 a.m. to noon.

Located next to Lake Fairfax Park’s campground, athletic fields and skate park, the 85-foot-by-185-foot rink is the first facility of its kind at a county park, FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer says. It features player and penalty boxes, hockey goals, bleachers and “ample” lighting to support daytime and evening use.

Under construction since last June, the rink was built with sport floor tiles on an asphalt pad, making it “ideal for roller hockey and skating” and allowing for “easy maintenance and modular tile replacement,” according to the park authority.

“There is literally something for everyone in the Fairfax County park system,” Boxer told FFXnow by email. “This new inline skate rink is a first for the Park Authority and it opens up another recreational opportunity for residents to enjoy and continues our commitment to provide wide diversity in program and facility offerings to serve the interests and needs of a diverse community.”

The inline skate rink is the product of an ongoing partnership between Fairfax County and the Capitals that began in 2021, when Fairfax County Public Schools joined the NHL team’s Hockey School Program, according to Capitals Director of Youth Hockey Development Peter Robinson.

Offered in 1,601 local schools that collectively reach over 1 million students, the program provides floor hockey equipment, teacher training and a custom curriculum to physical education teachers in all FCPS elementary and middle schools.

“The Washington Capitals are dedicated to growing the game of hockey by providing access to the sport in all its forms,” Robinson said. “A portion of that growth strategy is investing in the off-ice game by building facilities and creating programming within the community.”

Robinson says the team “jumped” at the opportunity to expand its partnership with the county by collaborating on the ball/inline skate rink at Lake Fairfax Park.

Though the facility was donated by the Capitals, the park authority was responsible for preparing the site and supporting infrastructure. The project cost the county an estimated $1.9 million, which came from park bonds approved by voters in 2020.

“Over the past ten years the Washington Capitals, along with the NHL/NHLPA, have invested over $3.5 million in growing the game off the ice,” Robinson said by email. “This rink project is a part of that overall investment strategy, and we are excited to begin offering programming at the new rink starting this summer.”

The Capitals’ programming at the rink will begin this Saturday with the free hockey clinic, which is part of the team’s Try Hockey for Free program. Starting at 11 a.m., the clinic will give attendees a chance to practice their stickhandling, passing, shooting and small games.

Though the clinic is free, advance registration is required, since spots are limited. Community members don’t need to bring equipment or prior hockey experience to participate.

Details about future programs, including classes and summer clinics, will be posted on the Capitals’ youth hockey development website.

The Lake Fairfax inline skate rink will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The rink can be reserved for $75 per hour, but when not reserved, it’s open to the general public for free on a first-come, first-served basis, Boxer says.