Sports firm signs deal to manage ice arena

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — It’s a win-win situation for sports enthusiasts and the municipal coffers, according to City Administrator Brandon Fournier: A final agreement was signed last month for JRV Consulting to manage and operate the Civic Center Arena.

“We lose operational expenses from day one,” Fournier said of the city’s gain. “We’ve already seen the value of improvements they make by bringing a level of expertise to staff training. They believe in the educational value of youth sports.”

JRV also brings a growing base of regional resources as operators and potential owners of the Taylor Sportsplex, and managers of the Melvindale Ice Arena and Community Center. Fournier said the company’s footprint invites considerable opportunities for the arena and athletes who hit the dual rinks.

“It’s economy of scale,” Fournier said. “We can attract major figure skating tournaments as a multiple unit that we couldn’t as single entities.”

For the city, Fournier said the five-year deal allows some relief in expenses. JRV will begin as managers, and for the first year will not be required to pay rent but will assume responsibility for improvements, to include a new ice resurfacer, for an estimated $135,000 to $150,000. Beginning with the second year JRV will be responsible for the city’s bond obligation of $200,000 annually.

“We lose the operational expenses and by year two can fulfill our debt obligation,” Fournier said. “We’re working hand-in-hand as a partnership.”

Much of the deal will be transparent for users, Fournier said, the hockey teams and figure skaters who won’t experience any increase in fees but will begin to see additional resources available to them.

Unlike their negotiations with Taylor to purchase that city’s Sportsplex, the agreement with Southgate does not include plans for JRV to become owners of the Arena, although cooperative projects may soon be launched for regional skating, hockey and non-ice events drawing from a now three-city base. JRV Consulting currently operates the Sportsplex under contract to the city of Taylor and negotiations to purchase the facility include 14 acres of land suitable for development as a hotel and restaurant.

Fournier said the agreement between JRV and Southgate continues the city’s philosophy of reducing expenses while maintaining services for residents.

“We identified a deal that made economic sense to the city and taxpayers,” Fournier said.