How hard is it to switch from marketing and advertising a baseball team to marketing and advertising an ice arena?
Eric Menzer of the York Professional Baseball Club, which owns and operates the York Revolution, is confident it can be done.
The club will be taking over management of the York City Ice Arena, owned by the city, on Sept. 1. The city, which has an annual debt service payment of more than $400,000 on the ice arena after the nonprofit York City Recreation Corp. that built it in 2001 defaulted, hopes the Revolution will help stop the bleeding.
Menzer, president and general manager of the Revolution, said he can’t promise the facility will pull out of the red immediately, but it certainly will be able to tie a tourniquet by leveraging the skills that come along with owning and operating a baseball team. Those include marketing, advertising and event production.
“We already run a publicly owned building,” Menzer said of Santander Stadium, which it is leasing from the York County Industrial Authority. “We can bring what needs to be brought to bear on this.”
City officials think so, and they’re getting a deal. The contract with the Revolution is $50,000 — about $10,000 less per year than former manager Rink Management Services Corp., based in Virginia, said Mayor C. Kim Bracey. And it is structured to provide the Revolution staff with incentives to bring in more revenue while running a tight ship.
“This could open the doors to many other areas. They’re experts in the sporting world,” Bracey said. “Who knows what other uses could come out of it?”
The ice arena is making money, if you factor out the debt service.
Menzer said the arena grossed just over $1 million while operating expenses were about $850,000 for 2013. Accounting for rounding, the arena is making about $125,000 to $150,000 net income, he said.
On average, about 300,000 people use the arena in a year. It’s home to the York Ice Hockey Club, the Devils; White Rose Figure Skating Club; and the York Capitals American Indoor Football team. It also hosts other youth hockey and figure skating camps and clinics.
The facility has two NHL-regulation ice surfaces, as well as a pro shop, snack bar, locker rooms and the Bob Hoffman Foundation Fitness Center, Class Room and Community Room.
Menzer said the Revs are so confident in the soundness of the facility that he’s bringing on current general manager Mike Cleveland and an assistant. They will become employees of York Professional Baseball, and the facility will be run under the Revolution’s management practices and standards.
Meanwhile, Menzer said the organization will leverage the facility’s assets to help generate more cash. He noted the amount of outdoor advertising at the Revs’ stadium, as well as corporate sponsorships for seating and events happening there, plus Santander Bank’s having naming rights to the stadium.
The same thing could be done at the ice arena, including selling naming rights, he said.
The contract with the city is structured so the Revs get 40 percent of any advertising revenue over $10,000. At the same time, the Revs also will get 25 percent of the profit made on the sale of naming rights, up to $25,000, and share in net operating income if it exceeds $200,000 annually, Menzer said.
“There’s not been a full-blown advertising and sales effort, or marketing effort, under the previous manager,” he said. “It’s not been at the level we’ll bring. There are three core competencies we have: Advertising, marketing and event management.”
City Council President Carol Hill-Evans said the deal is a good opportunity for the city and the Revolution.
“What we thought was beneficial to the city was the fact that all the Revolution management team has done to help their own organization — their talents and resources — are going to be used to manage the ice arena,” Hill-Evans said of the city council. “In addition, it’s going to reduce the amount of expenses of how much the city spends monthly. Every penny that we can save, we’re going to.”
“Not only is it a win in that way (lower expenses), but they are also a local community company,” she said. “They know us. They’re a homegrown neighbor who cares about our community. They want to see their business thrive, but they also want to see the local community thrive.”