ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Trinity Episcopal Church, a structure that’s doors have been closed since September 2020, now has a new owner, with plans to help Elmira’s youth and active community.
Ryan McFall founder of Empire Sports of the Southern Tier, formerly known as Empire Basketball, closed a deal on church Friday, Sept 8.
The announcement of the acquisition was made to Facebook, saying that the building will be transformed into a sports complex for the community.
McFall says they plan to be ready by the end of 2023 after renovations are made inside the four-structure complex.
Empire Sports added a list of what the community can expect at the facility,
- ACL Affiliated Corn Hole Leagues
- Basketball Leagues and Training
- Youth Speed Training
- Baseball Batting Cages and Training Area
- Outdoor Whiffle Ball Stadium and Leagues
- Lacrosse Youth Training
- Golf Simulator
- Group Football Training
- Professional Office Space for Lease
McFall said that there would be more to come following those additions.
McFall said that the large sanctuary hall of the church is to become a field turfed corn hole area and event center, with other parts of the compound to serve a number of other activities.
“I’m going to take the pews out. I’m going to reuse what pews I can for bars around the edges to set drinks on and stuff,” said McFall. Up there in the altar area will be refreshments, canned alcohol. Only cans, no liquor. Down here will be a field turfed with TV’s, and it will basically be a cornhole arena. There will be leagues, there will be senior leagues, there will be kids leagues, adult leagues, big weekend tournaments. This can also be rented for whatever. In the front there will be a Pudgie’s concession stand with non-alcoholic drinks so kids can be in that area. Everything else is staying, the stained-glass windows, I’m not taking the look of the church away.”
McFall says the new complex will also hold 3-on-3 basketball tournaments and youth clinics.
“I’ll have portable basketball hoops that can be removed, so if I’m not using this space for basketball, I can use it for many things, I’m going to have different camps and clinics too”, said McFall.
“I just saw the building and I liked the building. Once you walk through the building, its overwhelming. I’m just looking to build on community-oriented sporting things, something for people to do. I think the downtown is making a comeback in Elmira. It’s a lot better than it’s been lately and it’s going to continue to get better, so I figured I’d get on it now, before it becomes an even more expensive project.”
McFall says the goal is to have Empire Sports of the Southern Tier at least partially opened by December 1st. Mr. McFall declined to comment on how much he paid for the property. Chemung County property records have not been updated yet to reflect a change in ownership. The prior owner is still listed as ‘Trinity Episc Church Trustees’ based in Syracuse, New York. The 2023 full market value is listed as $272,700.
The church held its last service on September 6, 2020, after seeing a decline in attendance for years, with the closure having no connection to COVID-19.
The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places and was placed there on October 31, 2007.
In addition to being on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1855-built church is one of 11 churches in the world whose steeple is only brick from the base to the point, with the bell still working in the tower.
You can watch the full tour of the former church below: