It seems like these issues never die for the Phantoms. In the middle of a season where things are supposed to be improving, both on the ice and off, the news that the Phantoms practice rink is in the process of being foreclosed on comes as somewhat of a shock. Not much is really known as the matter is still pending but here is what we know via the investigative reporting from WFMJ (TV 21). On Wednesday, it was reported that PNC Bank declared default on a promissory note with nearly $1,800,000 left. That set a 21 day countdown, starting the day after the filing, for the defendants to respond. The first shot was fired early into the countdown with Ice Zone co-owner and Phantoms co-owner Bruce Zoldan filing suite against his partner at the Ice Zone, Thomas Hutch Jr. in the neighborhood of $800,000, alleging Hutch did not live up to his end of the arrangement. It looks like, at this point, that the Phantoms are going to let the foreclosure play out in court. The Ice Zone will remain open for now.
This isn't the first time the Ice Zone has been under the gun. In early 2013, with the Phantoms also facing the possibility of losing the lease at the Covelli, it was announced that the Ice Zone would be closing due to continuously running in the red at a rate of several hundred thousand dollars a year. A plan to tie the future of the rink to a season ticket drive for the Phantoms was cancelled and some people felt the facility was being used as a bargaining chip at the expense of the youth hockey and figure skating. The Ice Zone closed for a short time in May of 2013 but reopened in August 2013.
Losing the Ice Zone would be a serious blow to all local parties. The next closest rinks would be in the vicinity of Kent or Canton OH or possible Cranberry PA or further. This would make for a very difficult practice schedule. I suppose arrangements could be made to practice on the Covelli ice but youth hockey, figure skating and other recreational skating would still be looking for indoor facilities. In any event, it's more drama that the Phantoms and Bruce Zolden don't need and could be potentially devastating to area ice sports and all levels.