Friday, December 10, 2010

Hailey mulls arena rental fees

Parks and Lands Board aims to use some revenue for parks maintenance


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer


The master plan for the city of Hailey’s redevelopment of the rodeo grounds includes a new arena, ice rink and visitor center. The ice rink is being built by the nonprofit Hailey Ice organization. Courtesy graphic

The Hailey Parks and Lands Board is working on a rental fee structure for a planned 3,500-seat rodeo arena, or multi-use arena, scheduled for completion in July. The board hopes the fees will cover anticipated costs while allowing for a wide range of uses.

"We're trying to make sure the arena can be used for as many types of use as possible, and still make sure the facility is maintained through user fees," said Parks Project Coordinator Becki Keefer. "If you set the rates too high, you discourage use. If they're not high enough, you are subsidizing users."

Hailey voters passed a bond initiative last summer that will add $3.5 million in property taxes over the next 20 years to pay for the new facility. The new arena will have 1,000 seats more than the existing one, a fact that the city hopes to capitalize on as it moves forward.

The board plans to charge a $1,200-$1,500 fee per day for large events such as farmers markets, concerts and tractor pulls.

The board voted to include a $1 per ticket additional charge for ticketed events.

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"If they get 5,000 people in there, we make $5,000 in one night and that's all right with me," said Hailey Public Works Director Tom Hellen at a Parks and Lands Board meeting on Tuesday.

The board researched rental fees for eight similar facilities across the Intermountain West, and Hellen measured them against the maintenance and operations cost of the new facility if it is used only 20 days per year.

In order to keep the arena affordable for casual use, the board voted to charge $100 per day for "seasonal use" such as a weekly riding club, the same rate charged for reserving other public parks in the city for soccer games.

"The more the arena gets used, the more the cost could come down," Keefer said. "How can we keep it affordable for the community and still cover the costs of operations and maintenance? That is what the board is struggling with."

The board voted to collect a percentage of multi-use arena revenues to go into a fund dedicated to maintaining parks across the city. It also voted to include a $500 cleaning and security deposit for large events.

Hellen said he will re-check anticipated maintenance and operations costs for the new arena before the next meeting of the Parks and Lands Board in January.

At some point, the board will make a final recommendation on arena fees to the City Council.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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