Here's what we know. Black Bear Sports Group is purchasing or taking over management of east coast rink properties at a torrid pace. PHILADLEPHIA, PA.
Yesterday we learned three of the four Comcast-Spectacor owned Flyers Skate Zone properties
were purchased by Black Bear Sports Group. We also learned former NHL player Keith Primeau is not only involved in the deal, he's also now minority owner of the rinks and a Black Bear employee. In just the last 8 months they have outright purchased or taken over operations and management of 9 tri-state area rinks with a 10th, (Wintersport) still a question mark. Keith Primeau is President of Hockey Operations for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. Keith is a former NHL player who spent 15 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. Drafted 3rd overall in 1990, Keith played in two NHL All-Star games and finished his career as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers.
To understand the scope of what appears to be a massive take over, have a look at the current list of rinks acquired by Black Bear. Around this same time last year they owned and operated 9 rinks. They are now at 21 and could be 22 soon.Rink portfolio
Milford Ice Pavilion, Milford CT
The Patriot Ice Center, Newark, Del New
Southwest Ice Arena, Crestwood, IL
Center Ice of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL
American Heartland Ice Arena, Lincolnwood, IL
Seven Bridges Ice Arena, Woodbridge, IL
Ice World, Abington MD
Piney Orchard, Odenton, MD
Atlantic City Flyers Skate Zone, Atlantic City, NJ - New
Ice Land Skating Center, Hamilton Twp, NJ
Igloo Arena, Mt. Laurel NJ New
Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, Pennsauken, NJ - New
Aspen Ice Arena, Randolph, NJ
Skylands Ice World, Stockholm, NJ
Jersey Shore Arena, Wall Township, NJ
Printscape Arena at Southpointe, Canonsburg, PA
Grundy Arena, Bristol, PA - New
North East Flyers Skate Zone, Philadelphia, PA - New
Bucks County Ice, Warminster PA New
Revolution Ice Gardens, Warminster, PA New
Wintersport Arena, Willow Grove, PA (Will the sale take place?)
York Municipal Arena, York PA - New
What does this mean for the consumer? This remains to be seen, though many are projecting higher rink rates and inflated ice cost. It would be a trickle down effect. Clubs which play out of these rinks will pass off the cost to the families of the players. Though it wouldn't stop there, in-house hockey, men's leagues, figure skating, clinics, and public ice slots such as free skate, sticks and pucks, and open hockey will also most likely take a hit. One thing is very apparent, Black Bear is swallowing up struggling east coast hockey rinks and quickly taking over many of the common playing venues for local DVHL, NJYHL and AYHL hockey clubs in the Tri-State area. What is the ultimate goal, which rink or rinks is or are next? Stay tuned, at the current pace these rinks are being purchased, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.
This article will be updated as more details emerge.