Twin Ponds West, an ice rink and sports facility located on Lambs Gap Road in Hampden Township, has been sold to Lancaster County Bible Church and is expected to cease ice hockey and skating operations in March.
The site will become a new branch of LCBC, a rapidly expanding group of churches.
Twin Ponds East, its sister ice rink in Dauphin County, will not change and will continue to be owned and operated by the Patton family, according to Twin Ponds owner Reed Patton.
“The demand for ice has diminished over the years,” Patton said, adding that high school ice hockey leagues have shrunk and teams merged as the player base has become smaller.
“By consolidating our demand over to the East Shore location, it will make Twin Ponds East more economically sound,” Patton said.
Youth hockey programs have also dwindled somewhat, although recreational skating demand remains strong, Patton said.
The 86,000-square-foot facility was built by Patton in 1996.
“There was a tremendous demand for ice hockey at that time. Like any sport, it’s cyclical,” Patton said.
The skating rink does not occupy the entire building, and nonice sports may continue to operate even after LCBC takes over, Patton said.
The church has told him that it expects to begin converting the ice rink into church facilities in early March. But the other portion of the building will stay operational longer.
“It looks as though the cheerleading, the wrestling, the crossfit people, and the turf people are still going to have space,” Patton said.
LCBC posted a statement on its website last month stating it had placed Twin Ponds West under contract for $4.95 million.
“Our plan is to invest approximately $5 million in renovating half of the building to prepare an LCBC location with an auditorium that is able to hold up to 700 people,” the church said. “The other half of the building would be leased to other tenants, which would help cover a portion of our investment and operating costs.”
“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’s statement continued.
LCBC lists 14 church locations throughout Pennsylvania on its website. The group was founded in 1986 at its original location in Manheim.
A 2014 profile in Outreach Magazine, a Christian service publication, listed LCBC’s attendance at 13,854 worshippers, with 27 percent attendance growth in 2012 alone, the 10th-fastest growth rate among all churches in the United States.