BAHL President's Message
Strategic Planning and New/Renovated Rink Plans – Presidents Message
One of the most important committees currently meeting is our Strategic Planning Committee. We have been meeting for the past 3 months and under the guidance of a professional mediator, we are starting to formulate a strategic plan for the coming years.
The plan we are developing is essentially three fold.
1. What do we do with Centennial Ice Arena?
2. How do we effectively run and manage the arena and the league?
3. How do we grow our Youth Hockey program so that it strong, vibrant and self
Ice Arena Options
Centennial Ice Arena is an aging facility and is at the point where repair and maintenance of the facility is eating up large chunks of our operating budget. We are also facing the real possibility of a catastrophic failure of the ice making system. Most of you are probably not aware of the fact that Rimrock Auto Arena will no longer have any ice related activities in their arena (unless a separate refrigeration system is supplied). Rimrock Auto Arena will not be replacing the refrigeration piping under their arena floor that has recently failed. This ice making system failure is also a real possibility for Centennial. In light of these facts, we have identified four possible options.
1. Renovate Centennial Ice Arena. This would involve replacing all mechanical systems as well as renovating the interior and exterior of the building.
2. Build a new single sheet rink at the current location on Bench Blvd.
3. Build a new rink at a location that would allow for expansion to a second sheet of ice.
4. Collaborate with other Billings organizations to build a community center that would include an ice rink.
One of the more interesting options is collaborating with other Billings Organizations. We recently met with the Salvation Army. One of the little known facts about the Salvation Army is that they are one on the beneficiaries of Ray and Joan Kroc’s fortunes. They received over 3 billion dollars, which they are required to administer with a large portion of the funds going towards community centers and other similar projects. One of their target areas for a community center would include a competitive swimming pool, ice rink, performing arts theatre, community rooms, Salvation Army operations center and perhaps a basketball court.
We met again this week with the Salvation Army as well as representatives of the Big Sky State Games, Billings Aquatic Club, Figure Skating clubs, Adult Hockey League and Yellowstone County Commissioners.
This option does not come without strings attached. It would involve a complete buy in from all parties involved, matching funds, strong community support for the need for this type of facility and in the end, the Salvation Army will take on the responsibility of the day-to-day operations and maintenance.
One of the challenging issues we have faced over the years is how do we effectively run rink operations, manage employees, generate revenues, interface with user groups and run the league. Regardless of what option we choose in moving forward with a new rink, we will in all likelihood be in our current building for at least three more seasons.
We will be evaluating how we can better manage our operations with the resources that we currently have, as well as new resources based on our financial capabilities. We will be using some best practice ideas to help develop a better operating model and improve our revenue stream.
The foundation for what we do is youth hockey. Youth hockey is one of our main interests and what we devote most of our time to. As such, it is a major part of our strategic planning process. We are working on what we feel is the ideal structure for youth hockey in Billings and how to get there.
As you are all aware, our numbers in youth hockey has diminished significantly in the last 10 years. It is very difficult to structure an effective and self-sustaining youth sports program with the numbers we currently have in our program.
We just recently completed an attrition survey that produced some very interesting results. We will use these results as well as other data collected to help guide us in developing a growth and retention plan for the future.
No matter which direction we go, it will be expensive. Conservative estimates are anywhere from one to 10+ million dollars depending on which path we decide to follow. In order to raise the needed dollars and to keep an ice facility in Billings it is imperative that we are unified in our support of the choices made. The Billings community needs to support our efforts and they need to see our enthusiasm for moving ahead with our plans. This is going to be a 2-4 year process and we need every one of our members to be cheerleaders for youth hockey In Billings.
In the short term, we need your support in our current fund raising endeavors. The two fundraisers that are currently in place or in the planning stage are the Gun Raffle and the Casino Night on April 28th. The repairs and improvements we make on the rink this summer will be directly related to how much money we raise with our fundraisers. Start to show your support now. We having exciting things happening and we need everyone to be part of it.
If you are interested in being part of the strategic planning committee please send me an email at jeff.wilson25@... or to committee chairman Shane Coleman at spcoleman@....