New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to transform the iconic Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx — vacant since 1996 — into the world's largest indoor ice facility.

The armory, which occupies a full city block at 29 West Kingsbridge Road, will be redeveloped into a 750,000-square-foot ice sports facility, the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. It will feature nine year-round indoor regulation size ice rinks, including a feature rink that can seat about 5,000 people and be used to host national and international ice hockey tournaments, figure and speed skating competitions and ice shows.

Roughly $275 million of private money will fund the project, with construction expected to start next year.

Bloomberg made the announcement at the armory on Tuesday, and was joined by former New York Rangers star Mark Messier and Olympic figure skating gold medalist Sarah Hughes of Long Island.

KNIC Partners LLC, having been selected through a competitive public process that began with the issuance of a request proposals by the New York City Economic Development Commission in January 2012, and will now enter into a 99-year lease for the property. The RFP sought a redevelopment plan that would promote economic growth in Kingsbridge and surrounding neighborhoods.

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