When Cambria County’s population data revealed that it has the highest population decline of any Pennsylvania county in the last five years, you knew that meant some businesses have or will close because there aren’t enough people and dollars to support them.
Unfortunately, one of those victims is Planet Ice in Richland Township, right across from the Johnstown Galleria mall.
The Tribune-Democrat reports the rink will close July 31, 2016, and its Zamboni and equipment will be donated to Cambria County, which owns the other two rinks in town.
The ice rink already shut down its Facebook and Twitter pages, which would ultimately be filled with a lot of upset comments and a few spewing something nasty. However, it would also be a place for people looking for answers.
The paper also reports that the owners, who bought the rink in 2010 to avoid a closure then, will convert the rink to something else.
The War Memorial was already in danger of shuttering if not for the miraculous Hockeyville funding and additional government funding for improvements. And it will remain to be seen if that will be enough.
The War Memorial will see an uptick of business, however, while it will try to accommodate some programs, those time slots might take away from high-revenue events that pack the arena as opposed to beer league games.
The closure will also bring closure to a series of posts I wrote about how the North Central Recreation Center rink in Ebensburg was barely open. Maybe it would be open for 1-3 hours a night.
The NCRC and War Memorial are both owned by the county and managed by a private firm, SMG. The new manager hired in December said the North Central rink would be used to its maximum potential, and well, he’s certainly correct. He didn’t even have to seek out anything.
About 40 minutes northeast, Galactic Ice in Altoona will also likely gain some business, too.
The Hagerstown (Md.) Ice and Sports Complex sometimes has maybe 2-3 guys who also play in Johnstown from time to time because of where they live in Pennsylvania and they happen to work near the rink. That rink might pick up at maximum 5 players spread across various programs if any.
Overall, the ice rink business is in flux in Western Pennsylvania.
The Ice Mine near Connellsville is for sale, and its unknown if a new buyer would keep it as a rink.
There have been various changes, closures and sales for Pittsburgh area rinks, too, all the while a new one is being proposed near the University of Pittsburgh. Plus, the new Lemieux UMPC rink opened north of Pittsburgh in Cranberry Township last year.
For folks in the greater Cumberland, Md., area, Planet Ice’s closure removes yet another option who didn’t want to travel to Galactic Ice or the Hagerstown rink. Or Morgantown’s rink for those living closer to Frostburg.
Hopefully the bleeding of rinks will end soon, but there will likely be more pain soon.