Paid parking and walking fees part of discussion
Gary Bradshaw, acting chairman of Western Sports and Entertainment, poses at the Pepsi Centre Wednesday. — Photo by Cory Hurley/The Western Star
A rental fee increase is just one of the discussions on the board of directors’ table for Western Sports and Entertainment to help balance the Pepsi Centre’s books.
The prospect of a 15 per cent hike in fees has sparked a public campaign by users groups such as Corner Brook Minor Hockey, the Silver Blades Figure Skating Club, Humber Valley Speed Skating Club and other skating and hockey groups.
The board is meeting with representatives today to discuss concerns about paying more to rent the ice at the public facility operated through Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. A petition fighting the increase is expected to be presented.
Gary Bradshaw, acting chairman of the board, said the facility had a $150,000 shortfall in revenue last year, something the board hopes to prevent in future. The deficit will be written off the books for last year, but the board hopes the loss can be recouped.
Money generated through ice rentals accounted for 27 per cent of the Pepsi Centre’s revenue base, Bradshaw said. An increase in those fees was an obvious target as a way to generate more money, he said.
All users are potential revenue generators, he said. That includes walkers who use the track around the stands. The board is also pondering implementing paid parking. Those things are in the discussion phase as the board works toward getting back to a full complement of members.
“We need to look at any user of the facility, in whatever fashion, that might be incurring cost and driving wear and tear on the facilities,” he said. “That is what you can expect that any business would want to recover at a proportionate cost or in support from.”
Paid parking and a fee to use a walking track is common for such facilities in most places, Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said the expenditures were in line last year, but the board is looking at those, too. About 80 per cent of expenditures go to salaries and energy, so it is challenging to find cost savings there.
Attracting a major tenant and entertainment as a source of revenue appear to be receiving the most attention. Bradshaw said losing the Corner Brook Royals before last season was a hit — he estimated the ice rental, seat sales, and other activities associated with the team to be about 3.5 per cent of the revenue.
“It’s not earth-shattering in that sense, but it is important,” he said.
Combine that with a drop in rentals for the conference and meeting rooms, and he said the impact was significant.
Bradshaw said bringing in entertainers is a risky venture. Fronting costs with the uncertainity of ticket sales leaves the board cautious. He also said it’s unknown if people would come to Corner Brook for shows.
The Annex was recently renovated into a sports complex, and Bradshaw said the board is discussing how best to use that facility as a revenue generator. To date, and for immediate plans, it is a place for organized sports organizations to rent. Whether it becomes more than that remains to be seen.
“We want to market it as much as possible, and also consider whether there are specific programs that we — through the board and management of the Pepsi Centre itself —can do ourselves or commission others to come in and do,” he said.
He speculated the Annex could become the board’s “new shining star.”
There is a concern the Pepsi Centre — a legacy of the 1999 Canada Winter Games — has become a white elephant. Bradshaw said he prefers to think of it as a facility in a financial situation that can be worked through.
“There are a number of opportunities that will, hopefully, allow us to not balance our budget on existing users and stakeholders,” he said. “That is the mind set that the board has. To be creative and try to identify things that, maybe with new investment, we can generate more opportunities.”