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Costs will rise for schools to use arena

Over time, the cost of living tends to increase. A gallon of gas. A loaf of bread. Sooner or later, everything seems to cost more.

It should come as no surprise, then, that running an ice arena also costs more than it did seven or eight years ago. That's why the city of Farmington is asking Independent School District 192 to kick in a little bit more to use the arena for hockey games.

For the past several years, District 192 has paid $950 to rent the arena for boys junior varsity and varsity hockey games, and $900 for girls JV and varsity hockey games. The city and school district split proceeds from gate admissions 60/40.

But that agreement was set up long ago. It was established before current parks and recreation director Randy Distad came to Farmington, and he's been here seven years.

The problem is, these days, everything costs more than it did seven years ago, including running an ice arena. That's why the city now proposes charging $1,300 per game, regardless of whether it's a boys game or girls game, JV or varsity. On top of it, the city would like to change that proceed split from 60 percent to the city, 40 percent to the school district to 75 percent to the city and 25 percent to the schools.


The increases, Distad said, are to cover costs incurred at every game, yet aren't covered under the current agreement. When the city started planning for the Schmitz-Maki Arena renovations, city council members urged parks and recreation staff to look at operating costs and see whether there were ways to keep some of those costs under control.

What Distad and his staff found was that most of the time, the city was allocating more staffing on game nights, and the money the city was receiving wasn't enough to cover the basic operation costs. The facilities maintenance supervisor has to be at the arena during games, but that cost was not billed in the past. There were administrative costs associated with scheduling games and employees to work them, as well as having someone to count money and doing invoicing for games that were not covered.

The city also needs to bring on extra people for cleaning the arena after games. A typical game night means there are at least two to three extra employees on duty, and they work for at least an hour after the games are over to clean the bathrooms, concession stand, entry and more.

"Clean-up following practices versus games is a lot different," Distad said. "It's not just picking up garbage in the stands."

Tack on additional charges for the increase in costs to dispose of garbage, and all of the overhead costs for the building, and the previous agreement no longer meets the financial obligations to run a game, Distad said.

The increased amount charged per game will generate about $8,550 more on an annual basis. That amount does not factor in the proposed 75/25 gate admission split proposed by the city. That will be an additional source of income to cover some of the ice arena operations costs, Distad said.

"We want to create a situation where the rent we receive will cover the costs to operate the Schmitz-Maki Arena. That's why the rental rate has gone up as much as it has over the past few years. We're trying to get those two numbers closer together," he said.

The Farmington City Council approved the proposal at the Aug. 2 meeting. Distad has been in contact with School District 192 officials, who will bring the agreement before the Board of Education later this month.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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