Report: Planet Ice rink near Johnstown to close in July

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.

Connellsville Rink The Ice Mine For Sale

10371444_1062888233749955_7765632009763016524_n.jpgOwners of The Ice Mine in Fayette County, Pa., are actively looking for a buyer for the complex, according to a post on the rink’s Facebook page.

The post thwarted rumors that the complex is shuttering and instead explaining the normal reduced schedule for the summer is coming as the ice will be removed until likely September.

The rink, located south of Connellsville, could be yours for $2.27 million, according to the flyer. That includes the Olympic-sized rink, a roller skating rink, a gym, office space and party rooms, showers, locker rooms, Olympia ice resurfacers and the rink’s naming and branding rights.

The Ice Mine is owned by a business consulting company called Approach Advisors, reviving the once shuttered rink caught in a court battle from its previous owners. You can read about the colorful history of The Ice Mine in a post I wrote in September.

Is that price a deal or nah?

It’s hard to quantify that value sitting on my couch. The Fayette County Property Search did not bring up records for 5001 W. Crawford Ave., or 5001 SR 1051 for that matter. Maybe user error or website error–who knows. Without that, it’s hard to give a baseline of what the county think the property is worth from a taxable standpoint.

About an hour away, the Airport Ice Arena in Moon Township, Pa., was put up for sale back in 2007. According to a flyer by Oxford Realty Services, the 82,000-square-foot ice rink was built in 1995 and sits on 9 acres. The price was advertised for $3.5 million on this flyer, which listed other uses for the site other than as a rink.

However, this 2007 Beaver County Times article points out that price could inflate in different packages, according to owner Jim Lignelli:

The property is listed through GVA Oxford, of Pittsburgh, at $4.5 million for the business and land.

If the property is sold to continue as an ice rink, the price is raised to $5.2 million to cover special-purpose features such as the Zamboni machine that resurfaces the ice and the liquor license, Lignelli said.

A user on a Western Pennsylvania Hockey message board posted on March 14 that the rink sold, but the post is unclear on when the rink sold, to whom and for how much.

A poster noted that another firm, Howard Hanna Realty, had the rink listed for $6.25 million. There may be some truth to at least the sale closing because the listing is inactive now and you can only view a cached version.

Is it weird how the price climbed over the years while on the market, even coming out of a recession?

Anyway, whomever buys the property has to have the cash to sink into it for improvements if they want to keep the ice rink up and running for the long haul.

Refrigeration, air conditioning and insulation needs improved (witnessed fog on the ice last year in the summer along with ice separated from the boards).

Rubber flooring for skates need to be installed in the locker rooms and throughout that hallway and leading to the rink.

The showers need to be cleaned up. The water fountains need replaced or repaired, along with adding a couple of water fountains to fill your bottle easily.

The sinks in the restrooms need to be replaced or repaired. And it would be nice to have soap to wash your hands. Heck, doors instead of shower curtains for the toilet stalls would be awesome, too.

I don’t know how the rest of the facility looks like or its condition asides from the lobby and the gravel parking lot. That gravel lot could use a paving job, though.

It’s admirable that the owners were able to reopen the facility and keep it available for the community. And there’s now some hope new owners will have money and energy to fix up the rink and improve its branding and image.