SACO — What was once a hockey rink at the OA Sports Center is now a dark, empty space.

The sand-and-gravel foundation oval of the rink with its painted lines is still present. Hanging from the roof are American and Canadian flags, and Scarbrough High championship hockey banners waiting to be reclaimed.

The seats for fans at either end are still in place but otherwise the space is stripped to steel girders and a concrete floor dotted with dusty footprints.

The rink formerly known as the MHG Ice Centre was removed after the ownership group that leases the space realized it would no longer have two key hockey teams – the AHL Portland Pirates and the Portland Junior Pirates Elite team – to use the facility.

“It was simply an economic decision,” said Sean O’Brien, who leases the space with a business partner. “We lost two anchor tenants in the ice arena and without those anchor tenants the business model didn’t work.”

O’Brien said the facility will be converted to a multisport training facility with synthetic turf and a basketball-style hard court.

“The process has already begun,” O’Brien said. “There is no definite timetable but we’re looking at 60 to 90 days.”

The removal of the ice rink led to the Portland Junior Pirates youth hockey program being dissolved and sent the Scarborough High hockey programs scrambling for a new facility to practice and play.

“I think it’s obvious that it’s an unfortunate situation for the community and the children involved in the hockey programs,” O’Brien said. “There are lots of children that loved going to that facility and that arena. Everyone involved is hopeful of a positive outcome and future for that building. It will be different but it can still be a positive.”

O’Brien, who lives in Kennebunk, has a long history with hockey. A former scout for the Florida Panthers, he co-founded the Portland Junior Pirates in 2003 and was the youth hockey club’s president until 2009.

He was also instrumental in putting together the Maine Hockey Group to build the MHG Ice Centre, which opened in 2007.

O’Brien said he had not been directly involved with the Junior Pirates or the rink for several years until he and his business partner, Harlan Michaud, assumed the lease on the rink in the spring of 2015 from Ron Cain, the former owner of the AHL Pirates.

Running a hockey rink was no longer feasible, O’Brien said, after the Cain-led ownership group sold the Portland Pirates to a group that moved the team to Springfield, Massachusetts.

The sale of the Pirates was announced May 4. Prior to that, the Portland Junior Pirates were informed its Tier 2 Junior Elite team (ages 16-20) would be removed from its league due to failure to meet a three-year performance clause. The team was a solid 26-18 last season but a combined 25-59-1 the previous two seasons.

“The two years prior also factored into the performance clause,” O’Brien said. “A team from Rochester, New York, was also removed for the same performance clause.”

Together the AHL Pirates and the Junior Pirates Elite teams filled four hours of ice time from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The AHL Pirates began using the Saco facility for the 2013-14 season, also renting office space for their coaching staff.

“You’re just not going to be able to replace that daytime revenue so it was simply a business decision to convert to a multi-sport facility,” O’Brien said.

Coaches with two of the Junior Pirates youth teams said they were told in April that the hockey program would be shutting down. In addition to two Junior teams (ages 16-20), the Portland Junior Pirates had nine youth teams for ages 6-18, serving approximately 140 players in 2015-16.

“We finished our season in mid-March and then we were notified in early April that the (Junior Pirates) program was no longer,” said Quin Peel of Scarborough, who was coach of the Mite (8-and-under) Development team in 2015-16.

Three of the former Junior Pirates teams have been absorbed into the Maine Wild program, which plays and practices at the Biddeford Ice Arena.

“The U19 girls’ team is coming over to our umbrella and then we have a Squirt team (10-and-under age group) coming under our umbrella,” said Dan Fontas, the general manager of the Maine Wild. “There is also a Mite team coming but it will play in the Biddeford Youth Hockey program.”

The girls’ U19 team has had significant success, winning the USA Hockey Tier II 2015 national championship in East Lansing, Michigan.

Peter Metcalf coached the U19 girls’ team in 2015-16 and has a daughter playing on the co-ed Mite team.

Like Peel, Metcalf said he got word in April the OA Sports Center rink was closing and Junior Pirate teams should look for new affiliation options.

“My friend (Dan Fontas) runs the Wild and they don’t have a girls’ program or a mite team so it worked out for my two teams,” said Metcalf, a former University of Maine captain and eight-season professional player who lives in Scarborough.

Other former Junior Pirates players at the younger age groups have also filled roster spots with existing teams at the Biddeford Ice Arena, said Craig King, the general manager of the city-owned, not-for-profit facility.

“Their customers are filtering into organizations that already skate out of here,” King said. “Some of their youth kids are trickling into the two youth programs here (the Wild and Biddeford Youth Hockey). It’s the same thing with the men’s league. That’s gone from 16 to 22 teams. Right now everything is going well. We’re able to accommodate them.

“It’s just one of those things where they’ve gone out of business and their customers are looking for a new home.”

The Scarborough High varsity hockey teams (boys and girls) will now practice and play home games at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, a roughly 45-minute drive from the high school.

“We wanted to have consistency,” said Norm Gagne, the Scarborough boys’ coach. “(The Colisee was) able to give us back-to-back hours so the boys and the girls may be able to bus ride together.”

The Scarborough boys’ junior varsity will likely use multiple facilities, including the Colisee, Gagne said.

The empty rink in Saco also leaves a temporary gap in the overall business model of the OA Sports Center.

One side of the building is controlled by the OA Centers for Orthopaedics and includes a clinic, a performance center and a physical therapy center. The other side is leased to multiple sports-related businesses, including an existing all-sports turf field, office space, and the Michael Phelps Aquatic Center.

“For us, we enjoyed having the ice rink in the building,” said Kelly David, the director of marketing for Spectrum Medical Group. OA Center for Orthopedics is a division of Spectrum. “We’re sort of going with the idea that they’ll put some other thing in there, so we’re looking for the next thing.”