Knoerl said the current sale is less than half of what it would cost to relocate.
After the announced closure, an online petition asking the church to extend the lease through March 2019 amassed 1,627 signatures. Knoerl cited the reaction from the local ice-skating community as playing a “significant role” in the sale of the rink, which sees approximately 2,000 users per week.
Devin McDonald, 20, is a Vancouver native pursuing professional figure skating. He trains most days of the week and is on a test track, which is a series of tests in freestyle skating, in hopes that his rank will rise to qualify him for competitions against skaters his age.
Without the rink he would have commuted to and from Seattle multiple times a week due to the lack of options in the greater Portland metro area.
“This saves me significant time and money,” McDonald said.
For Peter Debad, 54, rink closure would have forced him to stop playing hockey altogether. The New Westminster, B.C. native commutes from Sandy — an hour each way — every Monday for a private skate with a group of friends and is participating in a tournament this weekend at the rink in what they thought was a last hurrah.
Now with what could be long term stability, Debad feels a sense of relief.
“It’s well worth the trip,” Debad said. It means I can continue playing until I’m old and grey.”
Joked Debad: “Basically they’ll pry this stick out of my cold dead hands.”
Wood and Knoerl have raised $750,000. They plan to turn to community support and an SBA 504 loan for the rest.
“I’ve always been passionate that the rink should be owned by the people who use the rink. We just need to figure out what that looks like from a financial perspective,” Wood said. “We have an ongoing business and could afford to service some sort of debt.”
City Bible Church bought the rink in 2006 and converted a portion of it into a church, while keeping the rink open. It put $250,000 into the rink in order to keep it open and has leased it at less than 1/5th the market value, according to Wood.
“It’s a challenge now because we have to close the sale, but we’re pretty confident we can do that. We’re thankful the church approved us doing this,” Wood said.
Before it was purchased by the church, the rink was losing $1 million per year, Wood explained.
“We’ve been subsidized by the church for 10 years, we’ve paid very little rent at all,” Wood said. “Now we’ll have to step up because we’ll have a mortgage payment. Main thing is keeping the rink open and trying to keep the cost down to the people that use it.”