After selling rink to Lancaster-based church, Twin Ponds owners focus on East Shore
After more than two decades of providing ice to eager skaters, Twin Ponds West is closing its doors and its owners are focusing on their Dauphin County rink.
The Hampden Township building was purchased by Manheim-based Lancaster County Bible Church on Dec. 21, and will become a new branch of the church, which has several satellite locations across the state, including in Harrisburg and York.
All ice skating operations will be consolidated at Twin Ponds East in Susquehanna Township and will continue to be run by owner Reed Patton.
Patton built Twin Ponds East in 1993 and Twin Ponds West in 1996 to give his son and other children the opportunity to play ice hockey at locations within a reasonable driving distance. At the time, ice hockey was becoming increasingly popular in the midstate, he said.
“There wasn’t enough ice in the area,” he said.
However, in the past decade, the demand for ice has thinned out, he said.
“It has dwindled down to a fraction of what it was,”he said.
Patton speculates that the downturn is due to competition from other youth sports, such as soccer and lacrosse.
He believes that the market for Twin Ponds East has remained viable due to its location, which is clos to the Giant Center in Hershey, home of the Hershey Bears ice hockey team.
Patton and his wife, Lisa Vranicar-Patton, had been considering selling the West rink for the past few years so they could focus on the East rink, but they wanted to sell it to a business or organization that would benefit the community.
They were approached by LCBC representatives over the summer and were satisfied with the church’s plans for the building, which include repurposing the ice rink for worship space and using other areas of the building for offices and classrooms, Patton said.
However, the church does not intend to use the entire building. It is currently working out an agreement with non-ice sports organizations that currently use space there.
LCBC stated on its website that it placed Twin Ponds West under contract for $4.95 million and plans to invest approximately $5 million into renovating half of the 80,000 square-foot building. The worship space will hold up to 700 people, and the other half of the building will be leased to tenants to help cover a portion of the investment and operating costs, according to the church statement.
“We believe this region could support an LCBC location of 2,000 or more people and it’s our goal to have it fully renovated for occupancy by mid-2020,” the church statement reads.
All programs and public skating times will continue as usual until the rink closes on April 1, Patton said.
He has no concerns about consolidating the skating programs at Twin Ponds East, which has two NHL-size rinks and a smaller hub. Regular skaters often use both locations already, he added. However, if the rink sees an influx of new skaters, it will hire more teachers, he said.
“If demand is high, we’ll adjust,” he said.
Still, the closing of Twin Ponds West is bittersweet for the Pattons, who met there and later married. The couple expressed their gratitude for all the people they met during their time there.
“It’s been a great endeavor,” he said.