“What if this passes, but then isn’t successful?”
One of the best questions I’ve heard about this facility goes to the point of whether or not this project can be successful over the long term – whether or not it can be sustainable.
“What if this passes, but then isn’t successful?”
Funding for this project is two-fold. There are the upfront, capital costs for the building, land, site improvements. This is what we are seeking funding for now. The second part of the funding is operational and ongoing.
We have built into our project an escrow account of sorts that will be built up over time so that we have the dollars available to pay for things that will routinely need to be improved, repaired and replaced. Ongoing operation and maintenance costs are typically where communities struggle. Paying for heat, water, grass cutting, snow plowing and staffing costs are usually what slowly eats away at a project like this. What happens when a furnace breaks? Or the AC malfunctions in August? How about re-sealing the parking lot in three years? Resurfacing the courts? Resurfacing the track?
This is where tournaments and events come in
In order to be sustainable and be able to pay for the property management and maintenance, we are looking at hosting events a minimum of 15 weekends a year. The tournaments would be a mix of basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball/baseball, etc. Even with the tournaments scheduled – whether they are inside or outside – the goal is to keep as much of the facility open for “drop in” use. For example, if it’s a basketball or volleyball tournament, we’d want to keep a court open.
There would be limitations on use too. If our AYSO teams are using all the soccer fields, we obviously are not going to boot our own kids to host a tournament.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a tournament does not necessarily mean 5,000 players. For example, we are talking about 10 volleyball teams – which is probably 110 players and parents, and maybe 100 cars. I know that in Frankenmuth we are used to always “going big.” The vast majority of the tournaments we are talking about would have an impact on local business by bringing in additional visitors (and helping to fund the Recreation Center), but in terms of added traffic or congestion – would mostly go unnoticed.
“But only a few people are going to use it”
We’ve heard the comments that this is just for a “few families” in Frankenmuth and if your kid is not in organized sports they won’t have a place here. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the place our parents wanted when they were kids and said there was no place to go. This is the place that we wanted when we were kids looking for a place to go. There will be times when tournaments occur and play will be limited based on the tournament in question. If there is a softball tournament, obviously the ball fields will be in use and there will be more people at the facility. Logistically it would be impossible to have a soccer tournament and a softball tournament at the same time. The FYSA have stated that its goal is for there to always be at least one indoor court available for open play/pick up play. We will be able to maintain sustainability while at the same time ensure that the facility’s primary use/function/benefit is for our own residents – all our residents, and not just kids on sports teams.
We are not a convention center
“The Center can also host larger-scale events like business and industry trade shows, consumer events.” This is not unusual for a community recreation center. Some hold mom-to-mom sales. Some rent themselves out for Millionaire’s Parties (Freeland Sports Zone). These events would not only draw people from out of town, but our local residents would find them of value as well.
We are trying to be transparent. One of the concerns we heard is a general disbelief that people travel for their children to play sports. We know they do. We think this project will be sustainable and successful based solely on recreational events. However, the last thing we want to do is NOT say it could be used for an event other than a recreation event and then be accused of not being forthcoming with the public. Think health fair. Could there be a “trade show event” that uses some of the facility in coordination with a hotel? Maybe. Maybe we are trying to be too specific. But we want to be honest. If some college wanted to set up shop for a day and host a special event that was related more to, say, recruiting students than to recreation, I think that’s a use we could consider. Our hope is that we will so easily meet our goal with 15 or so sports-related events over the course of a year and our local use will be so successful, that our facility will be “booked” to the extent we need it to be in order to create funding for operational costs.
Tournaments and events are not the sole purpose of the facility. They are a means to an end. We are a tourist town. People like to come here. If we are comfortable with tournament play and events on some (not all, not a majority, not even half) of the weekends throughout the year, we can let tourism sustain our recreation center.