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Snider Hockey partners with UPenn to grow youth program, improve rink, with $7 million gift

The gift will allow the Class of 1923 Arena to become a year-round facility and host an intensive summer youth hockey program.

Snider Hockey uses the sport as a hook to educate young players from "crayons to careers," said president Scott Tharp.
Snider Hockey uses the sport as a hook to educate young players from "crayons to careers," said president Scott Tharp.Read moreHANDOUT

Snider Hockey is expanding in a big way.

The ice hockey program, which uses the sport to teach kids how to “succeed in the game of life,” is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania to upgrade the Class of 1923 Arena into a four-season sporting venue. Snider Hockey, the nonprofit foundation set up by Philadelphia Flyers founder Ed Snider, has bundled more than $7 million in donations to refurbish the West Philadelphia rink.

The gifts include about $2 million from Philadelphia Flyer alumni, $600,000 from Penn, an additional $600,000 from the NHL Industry Growth Fund, and about $4 million from Snider Hockey, said the organization’s president, Scott Tharp.

With the makeover, the rink will operate year round. Currently, hockey can be played at the arena only in November through March. “Now, we’ll be able to do a 10 week summer program for boys and girls there,” Tharp said.

Snider Hockey has a total enrollment of more than 3,000 students, according to the foundation’s website.

Following completion of the work in October, Snider Hockey will relocate many of its programs to the university’s rink and host a daily after-school league there. It will continue to operate the program at seven rinks throughout the city.

The program honors the legacy of Snider, who was chairman of Comcast Spectacor and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers until he died of bladder cancer in 2016.

“My father always said Snider Hockey was his proudest achievement,” said Snider’s daughter Lindy Snider, an entrepreneur. “That’s really true. And we’re committed to have it carry on its mission.”

Lindy Snider said the program was about more than just hockey.

“It’s about the community and education with hockey as the hook,” she said. “We also concern ourselves with the families, not just the players themselves.”

The program draws its participants from the city of Philadelphia. About 70 percent of the players come from neighborhoods below the poverty level and all services are delivered at no cost, Tharp said. A sister foundation, Goals and Assists, offers four-year college scholarships for students who stay with the program through high school.

The official announcement of the partnership with Penn is expected to be made Friday night, before the faceoff in the charity hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation Alumni at the Class of 1923 Rink. Former forward Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, Nick Schultz and Brian Boucher are among the 35 Flyers alumni expected to play.

The charity game is part of this weekend’s 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The Flyers are playing host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night for an outdoor match at Lincoln Financial Field in what’s been dubbed “The Battle for Pennsylvania.”